All-Tournament Team (PDF)
PHILADELPHIA - Penn and Dartmouth have long been defined by their staunch defensive play in the world of women's lacrosse. On Sunday, the Ivy League Tournament championship game between the two took those reputations to another level. Unfortunately for the Quakers, the final score was not in their favor as the Big Green became the third different team in three years to win the Ivy League Tournament, 6-4.
The Quakers came out strong, building a 3-0 lead midway through the first period as the Quakers connected on three of the first seven shots they took. Erin Brennan scored first, finishing a Caroline Bunting pass 4:51 into the game to cap a Penn-dominant first five minutes. Penn had four shots in that run, hitting one pipe and missing just wide before Brennan scored.
Penn stood its ground on defense before building its 2-0 lead, with Emily Leitner making one save on a free position shot by Kristen Goldberg and the defense forcing three other attempts from bad angles which sailed wide.
Leah McBride forced a Dartmouth turnover just after the seven minute mark, sending Penn downfield where Maddie Poplawski set up a 1v1 play and finished to give Penn a two-goal lead 8:24 into the game. It took almost seven minutes for another goal to be put on the board as Courtney Tomchik scored at the 15:30 mark.
That was the last goal Penn would score for 43:48 of game play - a cold stretch which would see Dartmouth score six unanswered goals to come back and build a 6-3 lead.
Emily Leitner and Kristen Giovaniello have been two of the better goalkeepers in the League this season, and it showed in the title game with the NCAA automatic berth on the line. After Penn staked itself to the 3-0 lead, the two keepers combined for five saves before another goal was scored. Each had a stop on a free position, denying potent shooters.
Dartmouth finally got on the board with 1:38 remaining in the first half, with Goldberg taking a Lindsey Allard pass and scoring her 36th goal of the season.
That goal broke a very long drought for the Big Green which had gone 50:03 of game action without a goal since the second half of the semifinal with Cornell on Friday. The Big Green almost closed within one before the end of the opening stanza, but Leitner was again big on a free position, stopping Courtney Bennett as Dartmouth ended the first half 0-for-6 on free positions.
In the second half, the scoring did not pick up immediately, with Giovaniello stopping Maddie Poplawski early and Leitner answering with two saves of her own in the first five minutes. After a Penn turnover, Dartmouth was able to work a pair of free positions, missing wide on the first before finally connecting on one off the stick of Allard at the 36:52 mark.
The Big Green tied the game with 19:41 to play as Goldberg scored her second of the game. That goal opened up Dartmouth's offense a bit as the Big Green put together three goals in 2:17 of action to take a 5-3 lead. Sarah Plumb followed Goldberg's goal 43 seconds later with a free position goal before Hana Bowers made it a two-goal lead with 17:24 to play off a Frances Bird pass.
The Red and Blue responded strongly following Dartmouth's fifth goal with the game's next three shots, but two were stopped by Giovaniello and a third hit the post. The Big Green came back downfield, first having a shot saved by Leitner before a foul on Penn gave Dartmouth a close-range free position which Plumb pulled back on to pass over to Bowers who scored Dartmouth's sixth goal with 11:02 remaining.
The Quakers needed to score quickly to come back and needed the ball to do so. Penn forced the issue on defense while looking for turnovers, but had no luck gaining true possession. Maddie Poplawski scored on a free position for Penn with 0:43 remaining, but it wasn't enough.
Penn struggled all game to walk the fine line between good defensive plays and fouls as Penn finished the game with 36 fouls called against to just 15 on Dartmouth. The Quakers drew just a pair of free position attempts to nine for Dartmouth.
Leitner finished with nine saves and two ground balls, helping to limit Dartmouth to just two free position goals on those nine attempts. Allie Martin had two ground balls and one caused turnover, while Meg Markham added three ground balls, one draw control and one caused turnover as the Quakers were again without Lydia Miller on defense.
The Quakers sit at 9-7 overall and will await Sunday evening's NCAA Selection Show to see if their challenging schedule and sixth consecutive Ivy League regular season championship will earn them an at-large bid to the 2012 NCAA Championships. The Selection Show starts at 9 p.m. on NCAA.com.
Notes: Erin Brennan, Meredith Cain, Maddie Poplawski and Courtney Tomchik were named to the All-Tournament Team … For Brennan (2010) and Cain (2011) this marks their second All-Tournament selection … Emily Leitner tied the Tournament Record for saves with 19 over her two games … Leitner’s nine saves also tied the record for most saves in a championship game.