PHILADELPHIA For a while, it looked the Penn’s senior class of 2008 would not fulfill their goal of defeating Yale all four times the two teams met during their tenure in the Red and Blue. That was before senior Nicole Black stepped up and willed her team to a come-from-behind victory, 4-3 in overtime.
The win improves Penn’s record to 3-2 in the Ivy League and 7-7 overall, and keeps the Quakers alive in the race for the Ivy League championship. Yale drops to 7-7 and is now 2-3 in conference play.
Predicting an offensive outburst of four goals against Yale goalkeeper Charlotte Goins would have been risky as she entered the game ranked first in the country in save percentage at .847. Penn struck first, however, when Meghan Rose did what she does best, convert penalty stroke chances.
Marissa Waldemore covered a loose ball in front of the Yale net to give Rose the chance. As she has done in her three previous penalty strokes in college, Rose stood over the ball and gained her composure. Her quick release was too fast for Goins and Penn had a 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last long as Cat Lindroth took a pass from Ashley McCauley and evened the score at 1-1 less than two minutes later. The score remained tied at the half.
Penn again opened the scoring in the second half. Meredith Moran found Kara Bolger open on the left side of the cage for Bolger’s third goal of the season.
As they did in the first half, the Bulldogs rallied right back, knotting the game at 2-2 less than three minutes later. This time it was the Ivy League’s leading scorer McCauley who gathered a Ali Rotondo pass just inside the circle and fired a shot past Alanna Butera. The goal was McCauley’s 13th of the season.
With just over eight minutes to play in the game, Rotondo gave Yale its first lead of the game when scored her first goal of the season off a shot just to the right of Butera. Immediately after the goal, Penn head coach Val Cloud called timeout.
“I told the team it was now or never,” she said after the game, “This was our turf, our fans, our game. I told them we weren’t leaving without a win. I knew that the girls realized this. I just wanted them to hear it from me as well.”
Cloud’s words paid off when Black scored to tie the game at the 65:47 mark. Jamie Calahan brought the ball into the circle on the right side and slipped past a defender. She put a pass right on Black’s stick, who then dribbled past Goins and slid the ball into an empty net, setting the stage for further late-game heroics.
Black almost didn’t wait for overtime to win the game. She found the ball on her stick with seconds remaining on the clock and she took a shot that found its way through Goins’ five-hole and rolled along the line. Goins recovered and knocked the ball away at the last second to make sure the game extended to overtime.
Before it was Black’s turn to win the game, it was Butera’s. Less than a minute into the extra period, McCauley rushed all alone into the circle. Butera rushed out to stop her, but the ball got through. Rather than give up an empty net goal, the Penn defense caught up and fouled McCauley, resulting in a penalty stroke for the Bulldogs. Yale chose Katie Cantore to take the shot. Butera played the shot perfectly, diving and extending her right blocker to knock the ball away.
“I basically flung my whole body at the ball and it worked,” said Butera after the game.
With new life, the Quakers rushed down the field and wasted no time capitalizing. Sarah Warner fired a pass across the circle to Black, who ended the game and was mobbed by her teammates.
Black feels that it was her team’s effort from the opening whistle that was key to the victory.
“We stepped on the field and made our presence felt,” she said in between congratulations from alumni in town for the weekend’s festivities, “We played off each other well and earned this as a team.”
Black also knew that without Butera, she didn’t have the chance to win the game.
“She did a great job on that penalty stroke and gave us a chance to win the game. Her saving that shot was a great burst of energy for the team.”
Cloud sensed confidence in her team entering the extra frame.
“We played composed for most of the game. We came back and felt like we deserved to win this game, just like we did against Delaware. We knew that if we play together, we play well.”
She was also impressed with the resilience her team showed against a goalie like Goins.
“We made our chances pay off,” she said, “When we earned opportunities, we did not give up the ball. To come away with a win against a goalie like her, we must be pretty good.”
She closed with words of praise for her seniors who only know success against the Bulldogs.
“We are a senior-filled team. They know that you have to give everything you have all game in order to win in the Ivy League, and they proved that tonight.”
Penn returns to the field on Sunday when they take on 10th ranked Duke at the University of Delaware. Game time is 1 p.m. and you can follow all the action online at www.pennathletics.com.