PHILADELPHIA – With the calendar flipped to the postseason, Penn turned to its trademark stifling defense to earn a third trip to the Ivy League Tournament championship game via a 10-5 win over Cornell at Franklin Field.
The top-seeded Quakers benefitted from 12 Lucy Ferguson saves and eight caused turnovers, thrice holding the Big Red to goalless droughts of over 14 minutes in the game. Ferguson split her saves evenly between the two halves, highlighted by three in succession over a span of 1:51 after the Big Red had taken an early 1-0 lead.
After Cornell opened the scoring, Penn went for the next three goals, opening a 3-1 lead midway through the first half. Meredith Cain – who is arguably the most dominant player in Ivy League Tournament history with 11 goals and 14 points over six career games – scored on a free position 7:13 into the game to tie proceedings at 1-1. Five minutes later, Tory Bensen would give the Quakers a lead they would not relinquish on a low shot following a dodge from behind the net.
Just passed the midway point of the first half, Courtney Tomchik scored her only goal of the game on a pretty double dodge from the top of the zone. After faking out her second defender, Tomchik shot on the fly to give Penn a 3-1 lead.
Cornell would answer with a goal at 19:31 of the first half, but Penn would counter with a rapid-fire attack to take control of the game for good. Meredith Cain factored in two of those goals, scoring twice in a span of 31 seconds. The first came after Caroline Bunting ran a pair of Cornell defenders ragged before finding an open Cain with 9:24 left in the first half. Quickly thereafter, Cain came in on the fly and fired for her third of the game. A minute and a half later, Shannon Mangini connected on a free position to send Penn to halftime with a 6-2 lead.
Cornell would open the scoring again in the second half, but the Big Red would then go 17:05 without a goal while Penn struck three times to take a commanding 9-3 lead. Bunting was first to score, bombing in a shot on the run. Mangini scored her second of the game 1:29 later, sneaking out from behind the cage and going up top. Maddie Poplawski would go on to give Penn its largest lead of the game after depositing a Cain pass with 13:14 to play. Cornell attempted to climb back in to the game with a Rachel Moody goal with 8:33 to play, but Mangini stopped that movement in its tracks with her third quick-strike goal of the game 1:15 later off a pass from Catherine Dickinson.
The Quakers were exceptionally clean with the ball, committing just eight turnovers – tied for second-fewest in a game this season.
Lucy Ferguson was part of a team effort denying the Big Red on free positions all night long. Cornell had eight free position attempts and failed to score on any of them. Ferguson made six of her 12 saves on Cornell eight-meter offerings.
With the win, Penn improves to 4-2 all-time in Ivy League Tournament games and reaches the championship game for the third time in the four installments of the event. Those numbers are tied with Penn’s opponent on Sunday, Dartmouth, for the best records in ILT play. Penn and Dartmouth have met twice in the Ivy Tournament final, each side with one win. Last year, Dartmouth edged Penn, 6-4. The Quakers are 7-2 against the Big Green dating back to the 2007 season, and have not lost to the Big Green at Franklin Field since 2005. Earlier this season, Penn scored an 8-7 win over Dartmouth at Dunning-Cohen Champions Field at Penn Park.