Penn vs. Drexel Box Score
PHILADELPHIA - Penn opened its season with a win for the sixth year in a row, overcoming Drexel, 14-7. The Quakers, who entered the game ranked third in the country picked up their fourth-straight season-opening win over the Dragons, but needed a six-goal run starting at the tail end of the first half and extending until the 10:45 mark to blow open a one-goal game.
While the Red and Blue were playing only their first game of the 2010 season, Drexel was involved in its fifth contest. The game-readiness of Drexel was apparent in the opening portion of the game as the Dragons stymied Penn's offense early and were able to counter Penn's chances.
When a team is in its first game of a season and is struggling to find its grove, the best way to solve any issues is to go to the veterans who have been there before. Penn did just that whenever it need a burst, putting the ball in senior Ali DeLuca's hands. She came through early and often for Penn, finding the back of the cage a career-high six times. Four of her goals, including the game-opener at 27:10 were of the unassisted variety as DeLuca continued to show she is one of the most dangerous one-on-one players in the country. Drexel put high pressure on her outside the attack zone and she had little trouble going either way and getting to goal. Her six goals give DeLuca 106 for her career, moving her into fifth all-time by a Quaker. DeLuca now sits 23 goals behind all-time leader Sherry Marcantonio. DeLuca also tied Karen McFadden (1985-88) on Penn's all-time points list at 143.
Goalkeeper Emily Szelest put Penn in position to take an early lead after coming up with a save on a free position shot in the opening minutes. DeLuca then scored the first goal of the season for Penn on a restart after a Drexel foul.
The Dragons countered 54 seconds later off a restart of their own when Charlotte Wood scored her first of two in the half. DeLuca answered for the Quakers at 25:22, coming around the cage from behind and going low right from close range.
Penn appeared to take a two-goal lead on an Emma Spiro goal around 20:00, but a shooting space violation was called on Drexel before her shot was counted. The Quakers were unable to convert on the free position shot and turned the ball over shortly thereafter. At 17:75, Wood tied the game for Drexel, taking advantage of another call going against Penn. To Szelest's right, Penn defender Barb Seaman appeared to have caused a turnover, but a loose ball foul was called away from the play. On the ensuing free position, Wood converted. Drexel then took its only lead at 14:03 when Katie Blazer gathered her own rebound on an eight-meter shot. Szelest made the first save, but Blazer was able to catch the rebound and put it right back.
The back-to-back bad breaks seemed to wake up the Quakers, who scored three goals in 3:33 to take a 5-3 lead. Spiro got on the board officially at 11:34 on a free position. At 10:19, Courtney Lubbe worked a play with Giulia Giordano on a restart for her first of the season. DeLuca then capped her second first-half hat trick against Drexel in as many seasons at 8:01 after Giordano stripped Drexel goalie Whitney Johnson as she attempted to clear and found DeLuca rushing toward goal.
Drexel sniper Katie Lawson got one back for Drexel at 4:32, going solo in the slot for her 16th goal of the season.
With the score 5-4 in favor of Penn and time running out in the first half, the Quakers were sent into halftime up two thanks to Bridget Waclawik's first collegiate goal. The junior who has been limited to three games over two seasons due to injuries scored an unassisted goal at 1:35, working out from behind goal untouched and beating Johnson near her feet two give the Red and Blue the two-goal cushion.
After halftime, Penn struck for the first five goals of the second half. Spiro scored her second of the game on a nifty individual effort at 20:53, deking out a defender at the top of the arc and shooting low right. Freshman Caroline Bunting notched her first career goal at 14:17, becoming the next recipient of a Giordano pass from behind the cage.
Penn's 8-4 lead became 9-4 thanks to some good defense from Seaman. She got her stick on an Ali Allen shot at 13:36, the transition from defense to offense by Penn led to DeLuca's fourth goal at 12:49. She lost her defender in front of the cage, moved to the left and one-timed a Giordano pass for the strike. At 11:34, another freshman scored her first career goal as Maddie Poplawski converted a free position attempt. Less than a minute later, DeLuca struck again, going almost end-to-end after Drexel negated a scoring chance with a yellow card for a dangerous propel.
After DeLuca's sixth goal, Lubbe added her second to give Penn a 13-5 lead. The final minute of the game was a busy one, as Lawson scored twice for Drexel before Giordano capped off a five-point day with a goal of her own. She collected the draw control after a Drexel goal and came in on goal all alone for the goal.
The Quakers outshot Drexel, 31-14, and had the edge in ground balls, 10-5. Penn was able to control the pace of play for the most part thanks to picking up 15 draw controls to Drexel's eight. Poplawski had four draw controls for Penn and Megan Smith added three.
The Quakers are back in action March 3 at Temple. Game time is 3 p.m.