COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Penn opened up its 2014 NCAA Tournament much in the same way it closed out the Ivy League Tournament – taking advantage of early scoring chances and denying opponents any momentum on attack – en route to a 9-4 win over Canisius at the Field Hockey and Lacrosse Complex at the University of Maryland.
The win is the first for the Quakers in the NCAA Tournament since 2010 and advances to the Red and Blue to Sunday’s second round against the tournament’s top seed, Maryland. That game is slated for a 12 p.m. start Sunday.
Tory Bensen led all scorers with five points, including four goals. Her four-goal effort marked the sixth time this season she has scored at least four times in a single game – including five of her last six outings.
The first half was the difference as the Quakers dominated the early portion of the game, building a 5-0 lead midway through the opening period and holding a 7-2 advantage after 30 minutes had been played. The Quakers would need that dominant first half as the offense went dry in the second half, scoring just two goals.
Despite scoring just twice in the second half, Penn was able to maintain its five-goal lead thanks to a defensive unit which only conceded two goals of its own in the second half. Lucy Ferguson was a big factor in the final frame, making four saves as the Quakers were outshot, 12-2 down the stretch. She also held the Golden Griffins scoreless on five free position attempts during the game, including four missed eight-meters in the second half. Her two biggest saves arguably came midway through the second half when she denied the leading scorer for the Golden Griffins, Maria Kotas, and then stopped a free position from Tori Quinn. Just over a minute later, Bensen would score her fourth of the game – the final goal of the game – and Penn would go on to the win.
Penn’s top-ten team defense came to play, holding the 13th-best offense in the nation to nine goals fewer than its scoring average for 2014. The four goals scored by Canisius is the fewest all season, and the fewest since scoring six in back-to-back games to open the season. Maria Kotas, who entered the game with 54 goals and 79 points, was held to just two goals thanks to outstanding marking from Taylor Foussadier who also finished with a caused turnover and two ground balls. Tori Quinn (47 goals and 70 points entering the game) and Taylor Giglio (41 and 61) were each held to just an assist in the game.
Ivy League Defender of the Year Meg Markham had three caused turnovers and three ground balls while winning two draws to contribute to the defense’s impressive day. Lindsey Smith was all over the field, with a goal and an assist on attack and an important two caused turnover, three ground ball effort on defense.
The Quakers came out similar to their outing last weekend in the Ivy League Tournament championship game, scoring early and utilizing a stifling defense to frustrate their opponent.
Tory Bensen opened the scoring 2:37 in, working an individual effort from behind the cage – harkening back to Friday’s double overtime game-winner in the move needed – and scoring inside the left post for the first goal of the game.
Iris Williamson would net the second goal of the day for the Quakers at 9:05, cashing in a free position.
From there, Penn would hound the high-powered attack of the Golden Griffins, forcing five turnovers in the opening 15 minutes of the game and limiting Canisius to just one shot in that span. The lead would reach five for the Quakers before Canisius would score a goal as Catherine Dickinson and Brooke Kiley would score 1:12 apart and Tory Bensen would follow 3:47 later.
The quick-strike Canisius attack would finally mobilize to score twice in nine seconds with just over six minutes remaining in the first half, both off the stick of Meghan Cuddy. She would score with 6:33 remaining in the half, then again off the draw as Taylor Giglio found her streaking to goal.
Penn would not allow the Golden Griffins to maintain any momentum, Nina Corcoran scoring with 3:13 to play in the half and Bensen scoring her third of the game with 0:19 to play in the opening period.
The Quakers are now 10-9 all-time in the NCAA Tournament and head coach Karin Corbett improves to 9-7 in NCAA Tournament games.
Notes: Bensen now has 40 goals this season, which ranks tied for fourth all-time in a single season by a Penn player (Ali Deluca, 2009) … Bensen’s 52 points this season are tied for eighth-most in a season by a Penn player (Erin Brennan, 2011) … Penn improved to 13-0 this season when Nina Corcoran scores at least two points.