PHILADELPHIA - The Quakers finally broke into the win column Saturday afternoon at Franklin field. The victory could not have come at a better time as the Quakers were hosting the Ivy League runner up from last season in the first league game of the year. The Quaker defense, led by senior Kieran Sweeney, posted a shutout and Emily Corcoran found the back of the net on a penalty corner to make her first collegiate goal a game winner.
With the win, Penn is now tied for first place in the Ivy League with Dartmouth, Columbia, and Yale who also won their first Ivy games today. This was Penn's first win over Cornell since 2007 and it also marks the first time in seven years that Cornell was defeated in their first Ivy League game of the season.
Things were never easy for Penn on Saturday afternoon and that became very evident in the opening 10 minutes when Penn had to fend off two early penalty corners. The Big Red would manage shots on each of these short corners, but Sweeney was up to the challenge as she would be all day, making two saves keeping the game scoreless early.
Up until the 19th minute of play, the majority of the play took place in the midfield as the Penn defense, who played outstanding the entire game, held the Cornell offense in check, while just waiting for a breakthrough on the offensive end of the field. For Cornell, Brittany Thompson get a shot off in the 19th minute, but Sweeney was again in position to deny the chance.
Kirstin Snyder would get the Quakers' first chance at jumping out to the early lead with her shot in the 25th minute of play, but her shot went wide of the net midway through the first half. Two minutes later, Cornell would earn the penalty corner and Thompson would get another shot at Sweeney, but was again denied by the Quakers' senior.
With a quick transition game, Penn reversed fields after the corner and Corcoran got Penn's second look at goal but her shot also went wide. The ball then found its way down inside the Penn defense with less than five minutes to play in the first half and the Big Red would get two more shots on Sweeney. Just like she had done the entire game, Sweeney turned the shots aside to keep Cornell off the board. Neither team could muster any more offense in the remaining three plus minutes
Thanks in large part to Sweeney and the Quakers' defense, Penn went into the half tied at zero despite being outshot 6-2 and conceding three penalty corners in the first half. Sweeney was right there on all six shots as she made six of her 10 saves in the first 35 minutes.
Just over three minutes into the second half, Penn would get its first look at a penalty corner. They would be unsuccessful in getting the shot off, but did earn its second consecutive corner in the process. On the second try at the short corner, inserted by Helene Caniglia, Julie Tahan would get the first shot on frame for the Penn offense, but her run at goal was stopped by Alex Botte, who was first-team All-Ivy last season in net for Cornell.
Just over two minutes after the second penalty corner, Penn got a third attempt at the short corner opportunity. With Caniglia once again inserting the ball for play, Tahan got her shot blocked and Snyder then took possession of the loose ball and put her attempt on frame, only to be stopped by Botte. In the process, the Quakers earned their fourth penalty corner in the first eight minutes of the first half.
Caniglia would once again put the ball into play and Corcoran would finally put Penn up with her first collegiate goal, coming in the 44th minute of play. Caniglia was credited with the assist on the play and Penn took the lead in a game for the first time all season.
Even with the lead, the Big Red would not make it easy as they took a shot on goal just two minutes after Corcoran's goal, but the shot went wide. Penn regained control offensively and Snyder got her second shot on goal of the day, only to be saved by Cornell.
After a Cornell timeout, the Big Red earned two penalty corners. The Quakers, who were much improved on defensive corners, did not allow an offensive look on the first attempt and the second penalty corner saw a friendly bounce off the post and away from danger.
Five minutes later, the Big Red earned another penalty corner and the Quaker defense blocked the shot attempt. However, the Big Red were awarded another penalty corner and this time, it was MaryRose Croddick that came up with a defensive save, her first of the season and Penn's Ivy League leading fourth of the season.
With the Croddick save, Penn worked the ball through the midfield and into the attacking zone where Corcoran would be looking for seconds on the day and Sarah Hasson would get her first shot of the game on goal, but Botte made the save on both of the shots.
As quickly as Penn worked the ball into the Cornell defense, the Big Red followed suit. In the 60th minute of play, Sweeney once again made a save on the shot on goal and the attempt at the follow up shot went wide as Penn was still holding onto the lead.
As a team, Penn knew that it was going to have to earn everything that it got on this day and that became even more real when Mandy Epstein, who was rock-solid all day in the back for Penn was given a yellow card and sent off for five minutes after Cornell earned yet another penalty corner. Even minus Epstein, the Quakers' defense would not allow the shot on the impending corner and would clear the defensive zone.
Katherine Cook would be subbed in to fill Epstein's slot and would make the seamless transition as she shut down any offensive threats from the time she was in. With just over five minutes to go, Sweeney made her eighth save of the day and Penn was just five minutes away from its first win of the season.
These last few minutes would be anything but stress-free minutes however. Despite Epstein returning to the game, Cornell got another penalty corner with two minutes remaining and would get the shot off, but Sweeney would not come this far to let in the late goal now as she made another save. With one minute left final penalty corner was awarded to the Big Red. The penalty corner would once again be up to the task as they would not allow a shot. The Quakers never really cleared the defensive zone in the final minute, but the sure-handed sticks on defense would not concede another shot, sending the home crowd into celebration with the first win of the season.
Penn was outshot 14-10 in this game, with a 10-7 deficit on shots on goal. They also allowed 11 penalty corners, while only earning five, but they won the stat that matters most at the end of the day.
With a solid back line anchored by Sweeney, who made nine saves in her third collegiate shutout, the Quakers managed to hold on. In addition to outstanding play by Sweeny, Caroline Olt, Caniglia, Iqbal, Croddick, and Epstein all stepped up the defensive intensity on this day to diffuse the Cornell attack.
For the Quakers' attack, Corcoran, Snyder, and Tahan all had three shots. Each of the three attackers also had two shots on target. Hasson added the 10th shot of the day to the offense.
The Quakers' will now to look to rest from the hard-fought game that saw six players played the entire seventy minutes on the field, plus Epstein who missed five minutes with her card. The Quakers next game will be this upcoming Wednesday when Villanova comes to Franklin field for a non-conference game at 7:15. The Ivy League schedule resumes next Saturday when the team makes the trip to Harvard next Saturday.
Download: Cornell Box.pdf