Karin Brower Corbett Video Postgame
PHILADELPHIA - Erin Brennan has often said that the athlete she most admires is Wayne Gretzky, but after the performance Brennan put forth tonight in No. 9 Penn's 15-7 win over Rutgers, the "Great One" would be just as appreciative of Erin's efforts to spearhead the win.
Brennan was a fixture in what ice hockey analysts call “Gretzky’s Office” – the area directly behind the goal. All night long, especially in the second half, Brennan dished out a pass from behind the net that found an open teammate and resulted in a Penn goal. The final total was seven assists for the senior – a new program record.
With her seven assists, Brennan now has 11 assists this season and 71 for her career, moving into third all-time by a Penn player. She also now sits third all-time in points by a Quaker with 170.
Brennan had two goals and an assist in the first half as the Quakers put forth a dominant effort to take an 8-1 lead at the break. Three different players had two goals each in the first half, with Caroline Bunting and Courtney Tomchik also adding a pair.
The Quakers broke open a 2-1 game with five goals over the final 17:40 of the first half, dominating Rutgers in shots over the first stanza, 12-3. The Scarlet Knights did not help themselves with nine turnovers, Penn making them pay with goals following six of Rutgers' turnovers.
In the second half, the Scarlet Knights mounted a comeback. After Bunting notched her third of the game unassisted just 58 seconds into the second half, Rutgers tallied five of the next six goals to close the gap to 10-6 with 17:47 to play. Brennan had seen enough at that point and went into full playmaker mode.
First, she drew a defender to her at the top of the arc and after feigning a dodge to goal, pulled up mid-stride to send a leaping pass to a wide-open Cain who quickly sent it home.
Just under two minutes later, the duo connected again, Brennan working patiently behind the cage until the defense caved and left Cain open to give Penn a six goal lead, 12-6.
Following a Rutgers goal to cut the lead back to five, Penn became a bit more deliberate with its possessions and slowed the game down. Tomchik scored with 7:36 to play and reset the six goal advantage. 1:22 later, Brennan set up in her shop and dished to a streaking Bunting who one-touched home her fourth of the game. Brennan then finished off her day with an assist on Kelly McCallion's first of the season with 1:38 to play - a beautiful play started by a Maddie Poplawski caused turnover and ground ball which found its way to Brennan on a fast break who passed to McCallion for the score.
Penn's offense was flowing all night long, with just one of the Red and Blue's 15 goals coming off a free position attempt. Transition was the name of the game, with even defender Lydia Miller carrying the mail for Penn up the field to produce offense, with the sophomore defender notching her first career assist.
The Quakers had a 15-9 edge in draw controls, led by Taylor Foussadier who had four and Poplawski and Cain who each snagged three. Seven different players had a caused turnover in the game for the Red and Blue, while Emily Leitner and Maddie Poplawski each had three ground balls.
Those two were also key in keeping Rutgers sniper Ali Steinberg off the scoreboard. She had 11 points entering the game, but with Poplawski marking her all game couldn't get passed Leitner. One game after making a career high 11 saves, Leitner was big again in goal for the Quakers, coming through with eight saves and rendering Rutgers 1-for-4 on free positions.
The Quakers are now 2-1 this season and are home again on Saturday when Penn begins its quest for a sixth consecutive Ivy League title against Harvard at noon as part of an Alumni Weekend doubleheader with the men's lacrosse team which hosts No. 12 Villanova at 3 p.m.