PHILADELPHIA – In a battle that was everything befitting of the Penn-Princeton rivalry, the Quakers rallied for a 2-1 win over their archrivals to set up a winner-take-all meeting with Harvard next weekend in Cambridge for the Ivy League championship.
The Red and Blue trailed midway through the first half, needing to put together a rally once again to keep their chances for an Ivy League title alive.
On Senior Day, it was a pair of freshmen who did the damage for the Quakers. Shortly before the end of the first half, Matt Poplawski netted his second goal of the season. He connected in the 43’ from the near right post, banging in a Louis Schott pass to send Penn to halftime level with the Tigers after Princeton opened the scoring in the 28’ on a Cameron Porter goal.
Sam Hayward scored the eventual game-winner in the 61, bursting down the left side after a Forrest Clancy pass and beating Seth MacMillan to the far right post to push Penn ahead for the first time in the match. The goal was Hayward’s fifth of the season to give him the lead in the Ivy League rookie scoring race.
The Quakers navigated manpower issues in the second half, the biggest of which was a goalkeeper switch early in the second stanza. After making a stellar save on Nico Hurtado in the 48’, Tyler Kinn had to leave the game with a lower body injury. Max Polkinhorne, who hadn’t seen any action since suffering an injury of his own in a win over Cornell on Oct. 5, came into the match and saw immediate action on three Princeton shots which were just off target. The Quakers would weather that initial storm to find Hayward’s goal, but Polkinhorne would be called upon often down the stretch.
Four minutes after the Quakers took the lead, Polkinhorne denied Princeton sniper Cameron Porter to preserve the lead. That was one of four saves for Polkinhorne in less than a half of play as he would earn his second Ivy win of the season.
In addition to Kinn’s injury, the Quakers would go without Stephen Baker for most of the match as he dealt with a lower body injury he suffered against Brown last weekend. Late in the match, senior Jonny Dolezal had to come off after an injury of his own. Moments later, Princeton mounted its last offensive of the match, a Patrick O’Neil shot which Polkinhorne stopped.
The Red and Blue had trouble finding offense to start the match, not registering a shot until the 27’ and not putting a shot on goal until the 41’. Princeton took advantage of Penn’s lack of chances, opening the scoring in the 28’ on a Cameron Porter goal. Porter pounced on the rebound of a Brendan McSherry blocked shot and found the open net.
After the Quakers tied the game, Princeton was close to retaking the lead before the break, but a potential Princeton goal in the 45’ was negated due to a foul by the Tigers on a diving Kinn who was clearing a rebound following a save on Thomas Sanner.
Penn will head to Harvard next Saturday with the Ivy League championship on the line. The Quakers entered this weekend two points behind the Crimson in the Ivy standings, and took over first place for the moment with their win. The Red and Blue will be looking for their eighth Ivy League title overall, and first since 2008. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. at Soldiers Field Soccer Stadium.