No. 6 Penn 12, Drexel 9 Box Score (PDF)
PHILADELPHIA - No. 6 Penn has often struggled with its season opener against Drexel, the combination of Penn playing its first game while Drexel had already played multiple times causing problems for the Red and Blue in the early goings.
Add in the fact that Penn is mixing in many new faces for the 2011 season, and the rough goings on Saturday at Franklin Field in the first 39 minutes of play are understandable. However, after a timeout from head coach Karin Brower Corbett, the Quakers turned a 6-5 deficit into a 10-7 lead and never looked back, opening the 2011 campaign with a 12-9 win over the Dragons.
The phrase "see-saw affair" truly is applicable to the first three-quarters of play. Penn took a 4-1 lead with 12:23 to play in the first half, seemingly taking control of the game. However, Drexel ran off three goals before the end of the opening half, sending the game to the break knotted at 4-4.
In the second half, Penn again struck first, but watched as Drexel answered with two goals to take a 6-5 lead. Erin Brennan answered after the timeout to square the game at 6-6, but the Dragons once more took a lead on a goal less than three minute later.
The pendulum finally swung emphatically in Penn's favor with a four-goal Quaker spurt giving the Red and Blue a 10-7 lead. Penn received goals from four different players in that run, including free position goals from Maddie Poplawski and Brennan. Kelly McCallion and Caroline Bunting also scored over that 4:06 of game time, as Penn's underclass players took over.
While Drexel twice scored in the final 11 minutes, each time that score was answered by a Penn goal to keep the three-goal cushion.
One question mark surrounding Penn entering the 2011 season is who would provide offensive firepower with the graduation of the vaunted Class of 2010. The answer, for this game at least, was the Class of 2013. Sophomores accounted for half of Penn's goals, led by Bunting's career-high three-goal game. Kelly McCallion finished with her first two career goals while Poplawski added her first free position of the year after leading Penn in that category last season.
While the sophomores were on fire, so were Penn's captains. The tri-captain group of Giulia Giordano (three goals), Erin Brennan (two goals and an assist) and Carolyn Pollard (one assist, one caused turnover) were vital to Penn's success as well.
In goal, Emily Leitner made her first career start, and the junior made five saves for her second career win. She was at her best early, making two free-position saves in the opening moments of the game.
While Poplawski only found the back of the cage once, her role in the midfield was more of a defensive one all game. She finished with three ground balls and a caused turnover to go with a pair of draw controls. For the game, Penn out-drew Drexel, 14-8, and had a 28-18 shot advantage.
The Dragons were led by Charlotte Wood who had three goals, giving her 12 on the season in just three games. Alyse Maiden added two goals and an assist. Whitney Johnson made 10 saves in the loss.
The Quakers, 1-0 this season are back in action March 5 when they host No. 3 North Carolina at noon.
Notes: Penn defeated Drexel for the fifth season in a row ... Bunting's three goals were her first career multi-goal game ... Bunting scored just five goals in 2010 ... Kelly McCallion's two goals were her first collegiate goals and doubled her point total from 2010 ... Emily Leitner recorded her first career start and her second career win; the other came in the Ivy League Tournament final in 2010 against Dartmouth ... Shannon Mangini scored her first collegiate goal in her first collegiate game ...Five freshmen made their first collegiate appearances - Mangini, Lindsey Smith (first career start), Tory Bensen, Allie Martin and Lydia Miller.