PHILADELPHIA - The Penn men's lacrosse team entered its regular-season finale with Denver Saturday holding onto hopes that a win just might propel the Quakers into their third NCAA berth in the last four years.
With that in mind, the Quakers -- after a slow start -- threw everything they had at the Pioneers. Overall, Penn outshot Denver 40-22 on the day, including a staggering 26-11 in the second half.
However, while Penn was taking a lot of shots, what the Quakers were not doing was finding the goal -- only 18 of their shots were on goal. And Denver goalie Jeb Hollingsworth was able to collar enough of them (13) to give the Pioneers the 8-5 victory at Franklin Field.
With the win, the Pioneers end the regular season 9-7. Penn, meanwhile, sees its season come to a close at 6-7; with a losing overall record, the Quakers are ineligible for NCAA competition.
Penn got two goals apiece from sophomores J.J. Lian and Garvey Heiderman, while classmate Drew Collins had a goal and an assist. That was it, though, as the Quakersmatched their lowest goal total of the season.
Denver got two goals apiece from Joey Murray and Jon Paulson, while Ryan Zordani had a goal and an assist.
Penn took a 1-0 lead just two minutes into the game when Heiderman finished a Craig Andrzejewski feed, but Denver tied it up two minutes later when Brad Patterson netted an unassisted goal. Ilija Gajic gavethe Pioneersa leadthey would not relinquish with 5:26 left in the first.
More than 10 minutes went by until the next goal was scored, but Denver shocked the Penn with a pair of goals in just six seconds. The first came when Murray scored unassisted; the second came right off the face-off, which Denver's Shea Shepard won. He immediately found Zordani, who passed across the crease to Paulson for the easy goal to make the score 4-1.
An early omen that this might not be Penn's day came after that, asthe Quakers pepperedthe goal but could not score. At one point, three consecutivePenn shotshit the post and bounced harmlessly away. Instead, it was nearlysix minutesbefore Lian scored to make the score 4-2.
Another huge blow came with 2:33 left in the half, when Alex Salihi appeared to score to make it 4-3. Instead, a stick check showed his stick to be illegal, the goal was disallowed, and Salihi sat for a three-minute penalty.
Penn held Denver off throughout the man-down situation, but the Pioneers got a 5-2 lead two minutes into the third quarter when Zordani scored an unassisted goal.
More than seven minutes went by, again defined by Penn's off-target shooting. Finally, with 5:58 to go, Collins found the back of the net to make the score 5-3. Three minutes later, Lian jitterbugged on the left side and fired a shot past Hollingsworth's right side to bring the Quakers within 5-4.
Denver regained the two-goal advantage just before the end of the quarter, however, when Murray scored an unassisted goal with just 14 seconds remaining.
As desperation began setting in, Heiderman again brought Penn within a goal when he scored off a Collins feed with 12:06 to play in a man-up situation. However, while the Quakers threw everything they had at Denver, they could not get the equalizer. Instead, the Pioneers opened the lead back up to two when Paulson finished a Zordani feed, and then John Dickenson finished a nice man-up play off a feed from Gajic with 4:15 to play. That made the score 8-5, and Penn had no answer.