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PHILADELPHIA - On a cold, dreary day at Franklin Field, No. 11 Penn's offense matched the weather in the first half, scoring just twice. The 5-2 deficit at the half proved too much for the Quakers to overcome as Drexel knocked off the defending Ivy League champions, 11-8, in Penn's season opener.
The Dragons (3-0) scored first on a Kelly Palace goal 3:45 into the game, holding that edge for the first half of the period as Penn was 0-for-5 on its first five shots of the season. Maddie Poplawski finally broke through for the Quakers off a feed from Courtney Tomchik at the 14:19 mark to tie the game before Meredith Cain would give Penn its only lead of the game two minutes later off a pass from Poplawski.
The Dragons netted the next four goals to build a 5-2 lead at halftime, four different players scoring for the Dragons, including Palace who scored her second of the game with 1:21 left in the first half.
After the break, Penn came out firing in an attempt to tie the game. Lely DeSimone won the opening draw of the second half, and 1:22 into the period Poplawski found her second goal of the game on an assist from Cain. Just under three minutes later, Caroline Bunting connected on a free position goal to cut the deficit to one, 5-4. The Quakers would never tie the game, getting within one score twice more during the game. Catherine Dickinson's first career goal on a free position with 17:12 remaining made the score 6-5, and Tory Bensen had Penn one goal away from tying things up with her second of the game at the 53:01 mark.
Bensen's goal made the score 9-8 in favor of the Dragons, and Penn had a chance to tie after Iris Williamson won the draw control. Drexel's defense pressured, however, and forced a Penn turnover with 5:33 to play. The Quakers amped up their own defensive aggressiveness, with Jessica Rudloff ultimately putting the ball into an open net to give the Dragons a 10-8 lead with 2:35 to play. After the Dragons secured the next draw, Penn again pulled the keeper into a defensive position to try and force a turnover, Drexel again capitalizing for an empty-net goal.
The numbers were even for both sides in the game. Shots were square at 19 for each team, and draw controls were 9-9.
Poplawski led the Quakers with two goals and an assist, while Cain had a goal and an assist to go with three draw controls. Tory Bensen returned to the lineup after missing most of 2012 with injury to score two goals, while Dickinson and Williamson each scored their first career goals in their first career games. In her first start as a Quaker, Lucy Ferguson made four saves.
Kelli Joran led Drexel, scoring three goals and winning three draws with two caused turnovers. Kelly Palace also had a hat trick for the Dragons, while Rudloff scored twice and added an assist. For Drexel, the win is the first over Penn since 1993 - snapping a seven game losing streak.
Penn returns to action next Saturday against No. 5 North Carolina at Franklin Field with a 1 p.m. start.