PHILADELPHIA - There is an adage out there that proclaims "All good things must come to an end" and for the Penn women's lacrosse team, that saying became reality on Wednesday night as its 34-game Ivy League winning streak was halted by No. 15 Princeton, 11-7.
The conference winning streak - which was the current longest in the nation and the third-longest in NCAA history - is one of the greatest accomplishments by any Ivy League program in the history of the Ancient Eight. A few notes on just what the Penn women's lacrosse team accomplished from April 22, 2006 until tonight:
- The 34 games without a loss in Ivy League regular-season play was the current active in Ivy League team sports* (Cornell wrestling has won 48-consecutive Ivy League dual meets).
- Thanks to research assistance from the Ivy League, only four other winning streaks of 34-or-more games against Ivy League opponents have been found.
- If you are looking for the all-time record for longest consecutive winning streak in Ivy League team sports, that belongs to Penn men's basketball which won 48 Ivy games from 3/7/93-2/3/96.
- The other three streaks of 34+ games are Cornell men's lacrosse from 4/18/73-5/5/79, Harvard women's lacrosse from 3/28/87-3/20/92 and Princeton field hockey from 9/24/94-10/2/99.
The now-longest active winning streak in the Ivy League is Princeton field hockey's 24-gamer. In fact, with Penn's loss tonight, the current active Ivy League women's lacrosse win streak is Harvard's four-game streak. The last team to beat the Crimson inside the Ivy League - the Quakers, which did so March 12 of this year.
The Quakers had their chances to keep the streak alive, with 23 shots to Princeton's 20, but 18 turnovers ultimately derailed any hope of a fifth-consecutive undefeated Ivy League season. Of those 18 turnovers, eight were unforced as Penn seemed to cough up the ball at just the wrong moment.
After the opening 13 minutes saw Princeton take a 3-1 lead, the Quakers made their usually rally to get back in the game as Giulia Giordano looked to make Senior Night special. The tri-captain finished with two goals and an assist in the game, with all of those points coming in a 7:24 span in the first half as she seemed to will Penn back to tie the game twice. The first deadlock came at 3-3 when after Giordano scored her first on an unassisted strike, Tory Bensen took a Lindsey Smith feed and fired it home with 12:29 left in the half.
The Tigers then scored twice in 43 seconds to retake a two-goal lead, but Giordano did not give way. With 11:18 remaining in the first, Giordano set up Smith for a goal and then the senior took a pass from classmate Lily Posner on a fast break to tie the game once more at 5-5 with 8:18 to play in the opening period.
Princeton recaptured the lead with 6:56 left in the first on a Jaci Gassaway goal, and then added to the lead in the waning moments of the first half when Caroline Rehfuss scored on a free position with 00:29 on the clock.
The situation for Penn was similar to Saturday's game with Dartmouth, a contest Penn also trailed, 6-5, at halftime. On this night, however, the comeback never materialized.
Instead, Princeton scored the first two goals of the half and Penn never was able to move closer than 9-7 with 7:55 to play. Bridget Waclawik and Maddie Poplawski scored twice for Penn to cut the deficit in half, but the Red and Blue were stalled on their final opportunities. After Waclawik struck with 21:13 to play, Penn had six possessions before Poplawski could score. Three off those possessions ended in turnovers, and three resulted in great scoring opportunities for Penn that were saved by Erin Tochihara or hit the post.
After the Tigers scored to make it 10-7 with 7:13 to play, the Quakers once more brought the house on offense to get back on the scoreboard. Senior Carolyn Pollard picked up a ground ball after a turnover and stormed up field. The charge led to two Poplawski shots that went wide and a Bensen offering that was stopped by Tochihara, the Bensen shot that last Penn would take in the game.
On Senior Night, the five members of the Class of 2011 gave it their all. In addition to Giordano's three points, Waclawik's goal and Posner's assist coupled with two caused turnovers and two ground balls, Pollard had three draw controls and two ground balls while Keely Langdon had two draw controls and a ground ball. Sophomore Meredith Cain had four ground balls and two draw controls while Caroline Bunting had four draw controls.
For the Tigers, Lizzy Drumm and Cassie Pyle each scored three goals, while Charlotte Davis had two goals and an assist. Cathy Bachur forced three turnovers while picking up three ground balls and goalkeeper Erin Tochihara made eight saves and scooped up four ground balls.
The Red and Blue are now 9-4 overall and 5-1 inside the Ivy League. Princeton is 7-5 overall and 4-1 in Ancient Eight play. The Quakers still lead the Ivy League with their 5-1 mark and hold tiebreakers for homefield advantage in the Ivy League Tournament over Dartmouth and Harvard (both 4-1). The Tigers now hold the tiebreaker over Penn if both teams tie, but have two games left to play - at Dartmouth this weekend and home for Columbia. This Saturday's action when Penn is at Brown and the Tigers are in Hanover should go a long way to deciding where the Ivy League Tournament takes place and just how many teams may hold claim to the Ivy's regular season championship.