Women's Lacrosse Drops Thriller in NCAAs to #6 Loyola, 10-9 (OT)

Box Score (PDF)

NCAA Tournament games have a tendency to be dramatic and memorable no matter the sport, and Sunday's first round game between Penn and No. 6 Loyola delivered to the tune of a 10-9 overtime classic won by the Greyhounds at Ridley Athletic Complex.

The game featured nine ties and five lead changes, and not once did a team hold a lead by more than one goal.Penn had the lead six times in the game, taking one with 4:32 to go in regulation and again in the first overtime aftere Loyola rallied to tie the game in regulation. However, the Greyhounds truly beat the buzzer before time ran out in the first three-minute period of overtime -- scoring on a free position with 0.3 seconds left before the switching of sides -- to knot the game at 9-9 and then ran their only fast break of the game in the final 20 seconds to again score a goal near the buzzer -- this time with 3.8 seconds to secure the win.

The Quakers dictated the pace of play for much of the game, slowing down a high-powered Grehound attack and keeping the game in the single digits where Penn is often more comfortable. No lead was safe in the game, each sdie answering a brief charge with a measured counterattack to deny any team a sense of comfort as time wound down. Practically every stat category was even, Penn leading in shots (24-23), ground balls (19-16), draw controls (11-10) while Loyola had an egde in turnover (13-15) and saves (10-5).

Loyola's last lead of the game came in the waning seconds - off the stick of Hanna Schmitt. The freshman scored with 3.8 seconds remaining in overtime to break one last tie in an extremely close game. The goal for Loyola came after Penn's Meredith Cain was denied on a shot with 20 seconds remaining - her look was great and the shot was well-done, but Kerry Stoothoff's 10th save of the game came on a diving play back across her body to deny the Quakers.

The game was tied, 9-9, at that point thanks to a Kerry Burke free position goal with 0.3 seconds left in the first three-minute period of overtime. The Quakers had taken the lead to start overtime on a goal from Cain with 2:39 into extra time, but Loyola won the draw and a foul on Penn with 2.8 seconds left led to Burke's free position attempt.

Penn again won the draw to start the second three minutes of overtime, and held the ball until there was less than 30 seconds left. Penn had the play it wanted, with Brennan finding a cutting Cain, but the shot wasn't meant to be.

Penn was the only team to hold a lead in the second half, pulling ahead by a goal on four different occasions. Much like the first half, scoring was plentiful in the early moments of the second stanza, with five goals in the first 7:37 of play. Courtney Tomchik scored an unassisted goal to give Penn a 7-6 lead at that point, which was cancelled by Kara Burke's goal for Loyola with 17:17 left to play.

Crossing the midway point of the second half in a tie game, both teams pushed hard for the next goal. It took almost 13 minutes for that goal to come, and it was Caroline Bunting who scored unassisted with 4:32 left to give Penn an 8-7 lead. The 13 minutes without a goal did not reflect the level of action on the field, as the two teams combined for five shots between goals and the defenses ratcheted up the pressure which led to 10 turnovers between the two teams from the time Burke scored until Bunting gave Penn the lead.

Loyola, as it had done all game, answered Penn's goal with one of its own. Sydney Thomas scored 50 seconds after Bunting did, knotting the game at 8-8. The Quakers won the draw control, and Erin Brennan drew a free position with 2:35 to play. Loyola goalkeeper Kerry Stoothoff made a stop on the eight-meter from Brennan - the 'Hounds' fifth save on a Penn free position in the game. Loyola had one more chance in regulation, but Sydney Thomas' shot with seven seconds left sailed wide.

The first half was a goaltending battle, as Emily Leitner made three saves early and Loyola's Kerry Stoothoff finished with five saves in the opening period. Four of those saves for Stoothoff came on Penn free positions as she rendered the Quakers 1-for-5 on eight-meter shots in the first thirty minutes of play.

The Quakers opened the scoring just under a minute into the game when Meredith Cain one-timed in an Erin Brennan pass at 0:59. Loyola answered 1:06 later on a very similar goal when Marlee Paton one-touched in an Annie Thomas pass. The Greyhounds would go on to take a 2-1 lead when Annie Thomas scored on a pass from Sydney Thomas at the 3:15 mark.

That lead did not last long, however, as Maddie Poplawski tied the game 22 seconds later. After being fouled on the draw, Poplawski took the restart and charged around Loyola's lone defender and fired on the run to knot the game at 2-2 just 3:37 into the game. The Red and Blue retook the lead at 5:21 on an Erin Brennan free position.

Proceedings slowed down a bit before Loyola could square the game at 3-3 when Paton and Thomas again connected at the 11:05 mark. The Quakers appeared to take a 4-3 lead when Courtney Tomchik sent a shot past Stoothoff, but it was waved off for a crease violation. Neither team would go on to score before Kara Burke provided Loyola with a 4-3 lead at 24:37 from Paton on a shot from in tight near the crease. Penn would answer and tie the game 1:18 later when Caroline Bunting dodged around a defender and beat Stoothoff short side with 4:05 left in the first half. Stoothoff kept the game tied headed to halftime with her fourth free position save of the half on Tomchik at the buzzer on a free position earned with 1.8 seconds remaining.

Bunting finished with three goals for the Quakers, while Erin Brennan capped her Penn career with two goals and an assist. Cain matched Brennan with her two goals and an assist, adding a pair of caused turnovers. Freshman Meg Markham led the defensive effort with three caused turnovers, three draw controls and four ground balls while Maddie Poplawski led Penn with four draw controls. Emily Leitner had five saves, including one free position stop and a caused turnover as she made big plays to deny a high powered Loyola attack which was held to 10 goals for the first time since April 14 at Cornell.

Penn finishes its season with a 9-8 record and a sixth consecutive trip to the NCAA Championship. Along the way, Penn won a sixth straight Ivy League regular season title.

Download: LoyolaPennWLAX.pdf