Video~Penn Women's Lacrosse All-Access: Karin Brower, Head Coach
Video~Penn Women's Lacrosse All-Access: Rachel Manson, Senior Attacker
Audio~Post-Game Press Conference: Karin Brower, Melissa Lehman, Rachel Manson, and Sarah Waxman
TOWSON, Md. - The Penn women's lacrosse team battled back from a a three-goal deficit in the second half to claim a thrilling 9-8 overtime victoryagainst Duke inanNCAA semifinal Friday night at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md.
Senior Rachel Manson capped the come-from-behind victory,scoring the game-winning goal with 42 seconds remaining in the second overtime period. The goal came off freshman Giulia Giordano's free-position opportunity; her quick pass to Manson left her wide open in front of the goal.
With the win, the Quakers (17-1) move into uncharted waters for any Penn program -- the championship game. No Penn team in any sport has ever played in an NCAA final. Sunday's opponent? Top-seeded Northwestern, a 16-8 winner over Syracuse in Friday's first semifinal game. The Wildcats' -- winners of the last three national titles --have lost only once in their last 42 games, and thatcame April 27 against these Quakers, 11-7.
Start time at Unitas Stadium is 7 p.m., and tickets are still available.
“I am really proud of the girls after being down 7-4 and staying composed,” said Head Coach Karin Brower, who earned her 100th win as a college head coach Friday night. “We were struggling coming up with the draw, but made a couple of changes and got the ball so we were able to run our offense and have those opportunities [to score]. I’m really proud of our defense, they did an excellent job.”
Manson's two goals were bookends for the game, as shealso opened the game's scoringexactly one minute into the game. After herinitial tally, Duke's Carolyn Davis scored the first of her five goals, and thenSarah Bullard scored less than a minute later to give the Blue Devils the lead.
Itwould benearly 50 minutesbefore Penn-- winners of a program-record 15 straight games-- regained the edge.
In a game that was expected to be deliberate and patient, unseeded Duke (13-8) controlled the ball for a good portion of the first half and held a 4-3advantage at the break. Melissa Lehman scored with 12 minutes to go in the half to close that period's scoring.The Blue Devilshad the last shot of the half, but Sarah Waxman made a big save tokeep it close going into the break.
Waxman was impressive with seven saves, and four of the Blue Devils’ goals Friday night came on free-position shots. Arguably her biggest save of thegame came with 24 seconds left in the first overtime session--Lindsay Gilbride, who had scored twice for Duke includinga free-position effort with exactly a minute left in regulation to force OT, fired a great shot on goal but Waxman made an even greater stop.
Giordano scored early in the second half to tie the score at four-all,but for several minutes after that Penn struggled to win draws or gain possession.Instead, Dukecoolly held the ball,and Davis almost single-handedly built the Blue Devils’ lead to 7-4.
It was with 15:08 to play that the tide started turning inPenn's favor. Junior Kaitlyn Lombardo got the run started, firing home a shot from the right side to break an 11-minute scoring drought. She agonizingly hit the crossbar just over a minute later, but though the goal would have been nice, it was clear that Penn was back in the game.
Lehman scored twice in the game, and Ali DeLuca had a tally inthe Quakers'four-goalsecond-halfrun that covered about10 minutes and reclaimed the lead for Penn with 5:40 to play.
Senior Allison Ambrozy was huge for Penn down the stretch -- she won four of her seven draw controls in that final 15 minutes and gave the Quakers the possessions they had been looking for earlier. She also came out of a scrum after Manson’s overtime goal to help the Red and Blue hold onto the ball and run down the clock.
NOTE: NCAA rules dictate that should a tie remain at the end of regulation, two three-minute periods (changing sides at the end of the first) of stop-clock will be played. The team which leads at the end of six minutes wins the game. If the teams are still tied after six minutes, the game moves to three-minute sudden-victory periods where the first team to score wins.