PHILADELPHIA – Good things come to those who wait.
For Shannon Mangini, the wait was long – almost too long. That last time she felt the joy of sending a shot past a goalkeeper was 715 days ago.
Since then, the journey has been tough. An ACL injury in the fall of 2013 knocked Mangini – the 2013 Ivy League Midfielder of the Year out for all of 2014. Cleared to return for this season, the fifth year senior appeared in six games prior to today’s match up with Yale, but it was the seventh game which proved to be the lucky one for Mangini.
With 8:55 to play in the first half, she received a pass from Nina Corcoran and took two steps to goal. With a form that Penn fans had seen 42 times previously during her career in University City, Mangini fired to the far post and beat the goalkeeper for her first goal in 715 days. She fired her stick down in celebration and – with maybe her strongest steps since she went down with her injury two falls ago – she charged to her teammates and coaches to celebrate on the sideline.
Mangini’s emotional goal was one 13 on the day for No. 11 Penn as the Quakers clinched a berth in the Ivy League Tournament with a 13-7 win over Yale.
Nina Corcoran and Tory Bensen – as has so often been the case this season – were the catalyst for Penn’s offense in milestone performances for the duo. Fittingly, on Alumni Day for the program, each player passed some of the all-time greats as they continue their assault on the record book.
Nina Corcoran had a goal and four assists against the Bulldogs, making her the 22nd player in program history to reach the 100-point plateau for her career. She is now tied with current Penn assistant coach Melissa Lehman ’08 for 18th place all-time with 102 points. Corcoran’s four assists give her 27 this season, which ties her for third-most in a single season by a Penn player all-time. She is one away from second place and six away from tying the program record for assists in a season which is 33 set by Sherry Marcantonio in 1981.
Bensen had three goals in the game, her ninth hat trick in 14 games this season. The three goals give her 43 this season – tying her career high set last year for third place on Penn’s single-season list. She also moved into a tie for third place all-time at Penn in goal scoring with 126 career goals. She is now even with Erin Brennan ’12 and three away from Sherry Marcantonio who had 126 from 1980-83.
The Quakers never really had control in the game until the second half. Lindsey Smith opened the scoring for the Quakers 8:10 into the game off a Catherine Dickinson pass, but Yale answered just 19 seconds later with a goal from Maggie Pizzo off a Cathryn Avallone pass. Just over two minutes later, Avallone scored to give Yale its only lead of the game.
The Quakers scored the next three goals to build a 4-2 lead. Corcoran factored in all three goals, with two assists sandwiched around a goal of her own. Yale appeared to have momentum with a Kerri Fleishhacker goal with 7:10 to play, but Bensen squashed that with a free position goal just 36 seconds later for a Penn halftime lead of 5-3.
Bensen came right out in the second half and scored 57 seconds into the period to give Penn a 6-3 lead, but Nicole Daniggelis scored one for the Bulldogs to cut the lead to two.
That was as close as Yale would get, though, as Lely DeSimone briefly took over with two mirror-image goals in the span of 1:50. Both markers came on the fly, and both saw DeSimone drive down the center of the Yale defense al alone. Bensen and Sarah Barcia would make it a four-goal Penn run with two goals in a span of 27 seconds to make Penn’s lead 10-4 with 17:34 to play and the Quakers would never look back.
Barcia, DeSimone, Dickinson and Smith each finished with two goals in the game.
Brooke Kiley was a force for the Quakers in the midfield, putting together her best game as a Quaker. The junior finished with career highs in draw controls (7), ground balls (4) and caused turnovers (3) as she dominated the 50-50 balls all day long.
Natalie Steffan had three draw controls for the Red and Blue while Meg Markham added three ground balls and two caused turnovers.
Lucy Ferguson made eight saves in the game, including seven in the second half. She was at her best during Penn’s four-goal run to build its 10-4 lead in the second half, making three successive stops on Yale from point-blank range to keep Penn rolling.
The Quakers are still alive in the hunt for a ninth consecutive Ivy League title, but will need some help. Penn is 5-1 inside the Ivy League, while Princeton is 6-0. The Tigers will host Brown on April 25, while Penn finishes its season on the 26th against Cornell at Franklin Field. A Penn win and Princeton loss and the Red and Blue will tie for the top spot in the League.
What is settled, however, is the location of the 2015 Ivy League Tournament and three of the four participants. Princeton has locked up the top seed and hosting rights. The Quakers and Cornell have secured berths in the ILT, and will play each other. The winner of next week’s game will be the No. 2 seed. Penn is the only school to qualify for all six Ivy League Tournaments.
The fourth participant in the Ivy League Tournament will be decided next week when Yale travels to Harvard. The Crimson are 3-3, while the Bulldogs are 2-4 in League play. The winner of that game will earn the fourth seed and will play Princeton.