PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania men’s lacrosse team has come up big when it needed to on a number of occasions already this season, especially late in games.
The rabbit that the Quakers pulled out of their hat against Harvard on Saturday at Franklin Field might have topped them all.
Already down, 7-5, to the Ivy League leaders midway through the fourth quarter, Penn had to fight off a pair of one-minute penalties just to stay in the game. Shortly after fending off the second man-down situation, the Red and Blue got within a goal on Zack Losco’s unassisted tally.
Harvard looked like they might have this one wrapped up in the final seconds, gaining possession of the ball in the final minute. However, a Crimson turnover was compounded by something rarely seen at the college level -- offsides at the defensive end, which the refs flagged for a penalty. Given the ball and a man-up situation with just 19 seconds left on the clock, Penn wasted no time drawing level, Drew Belinsky finishing Nick Doktor’s feed just six seconds into the power play.
The teams went to overtime, and Harvard won the draw. Still, at this point was there any doubt? An unforced turnover by the Crimsonin its offensive zone left the ball bouncing right into Belinsky’s stick. He drove all the way down the field and, in an unsettled opportunity, found Losco in front. Losco took a few steps toward goal, then fed freshman Kevin Brown at the left post. Brown was hit but released a bouncing shot as he went down, and the shot bounced high into the netting to secure the dramatic victory.
So 11th-ranked Penn improves to 6-3 on the season overall, and to 3-2 in Ivy League play with last-place Dartmouth on the docket next Saturday in Hanover, N.H. Harvard falls into a first-place tie with Cornell, both at 3-1 -- thought the 17th-ranked Crimson hold the tiebreaker on the Big Red, having beaten them -- and is now 7-5 overall.
To give you a sense of how nutty this game ended, Brown’s goal not only gave Penn the win; it also gave the Quakers their first lead since 2-1 in the second quarter.
Chris Hupfeldt started the scoring in the first quarter with an unassisted goal, but Deke Burns leveled the game just three minutes later off a Devin Dwyer feed for the only goals in the opening period. In the second, Losco scored in a man-up situation just ahead of Harvard getting back to 6-on-6, the feed coming from Pat Berkery.
Harvard scored the next two, first when Peter Schwartz went unassisted and later when Carl Zimmerman finished a Dwyer feed to make it 3-2. Penn tied things up when Mike Power took a nice pass from Joe McCallion and converted his first goal of the season. However, with the clock dying on the first half, Schwartz caught his defender looking away, got behind him, and Dwyer found his teammate for an easy goal. It was 4-3 Harvard at the break.
More than half of the third period went by before any scoring was done, but with 6:30 left Belinsky took a nice pass from Hupfeldt at the far post to tie the score at 4-4. Harvard responded with a pair of goals just 1:02 apart, the first from Will Walker and the second from Sean McDonagh (off a Schwartz feed).
Andrew Staller’s first goal this season came with just under 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter to make the score 6-5, but the Crimson again doubled their lead when Zimmerman scored unassisted with 8:19 left. That set the stage for the dramatic conclusion.
Harvard outshot Penn, 36-27, but Brian Feeney -- one of nine Penn seniors player their final regular-season game at Franklin Field -- had another standout game in goal with 13 saves. At the other end, Jake Gambitsky came up with 10 stops.
Penn’s Ivy League finale with the Big Green will face off at 1 p.m.