DURHAM - With a 12-9 loss at No. 5 seed Duke, Penn's run of consecutive trips to the national quarterfinals came to an end at four.
The Red and Blue had their chances in the game, sending 24 shots toward Duke's goal, but a four-goal run over 3:46 early in the first half gave Duke a 4-1 lead and Penn was unable to catch up.
Meredith Cain did all she could to keep Penn's chances alive, with a career high four goals and five points. Erin Brennan added four points with a pair each of goals and assists while Lindsey Smith had a goal and an assist in her first NCAA action.
Another Penn player who stood out in her first national tournament game was junior goalkeeper Emily Leitner. She tied her career high with nine saves, seven of which came in the first half as Duke took 18 shots in the opening 30 minutes.
The four points for Brennan give her 52 for the season, which ranks seventh all-time by a Penn player. In addition, she finishes her first three seasons as a Quaker with 153 points, moving into fifth-place all-time in Penn program history. She will enter the 2012 season just four points behind fourth-place Rachel Manson and 47 points away from becoming Penn's third 200-point scorer. 93 of her points have been goals, ranking Brennan eighth all-time and leaving her seven away from becoming the seventh player to score 100 goals in a Penn uniform. Finally, Brennan has 60 assists for the Red and Blue, good for fifth-place on that list.
Senior Giulia Giordano had one assist in the game, finishing her career with 127 career points and 10th place all-time on Penn's career scoring list. For Giordano, 48 of those points were assists, ranking her sixth all-time on
Penn's career assist list and her 79 goals are good for 12th.
Four other players saw their careers come to a close on Sunday. Keely Langdon, Carolyn Pollard, Lily Posner and Bridget Waclawik join Giordano in the Class of 2011, a group which won four Ivy League titles, advanced to two national semifinals, played in Penn's lone national title game in women's lacrosse history and won the first Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Tournament to ever be played.
Kat Thomas had four goals from Duke, coming back from an ankle injury suffered in Duke's 13-10 loss at Penn two weeks ago. Sarah Bullard added three goals while Mollie Mackler had eight saves and four ground balls in goal.
Penn opened up the scoring in the game with a free position goal by Bridget Waclawik 2:30 into the game. From there, Duke scored four in a row to take a 4-1 lead with 20:44 to play in the half. The Quakers played Duke even from that point to close out the first half, entering halftime trailing, 7-4.
Meredith Cain scored Penn's second goal, quick-sticking in a Giulia Giordano pass with 18:07 left in the first half. After the Blue Devils opened their lead to 6-2, Lindsey Smith scored a similar goal to Cain, this time finding an Erin Brennan pass and quickly one-timing it past the keeper. The Smith goal was vintage Penn. Lydia Miller started the play with a caused turnover and ground ball in the defensive zone. She pitched the ball to Leitner who patiently waited for the Quakers to set up transition. Carolyn Pollard found open space, took a pass from Leitner and then charged down the field to complete the clear. From there, the ball found Brennan's stick behind the cage and she waited for Smith to streak through the eight and complete the scoring play.
With just over eight minutes left in the half, Caroline Bunting took a tour of the Duke offensive zone, picking up a ground ball near the restraining line, taking it around the goal to the keeper's left and coming out the other side for a quick shot top right corner to move Penn within two at 6-4.
In the second half, Duke scored twice in the first 3:02 to extend its lead to five. From there, Cain was a one-woman scoring machine for the Quakers as she scored three goals to help Penn climb back to within three at 10-7 with 16:26 to play. Two of her goals came within 47 seconds of each other each off a nice feed from a teammate (Smith and Brennan, respectively).
After Cain's fourth of the game, the two teams traded four goals to close out the scoring, with Brennan connecting on both of Penn's strikes. Her second of the game came with 5:50 left to close the gap once more to three at 12-9, but the Quakers couldn't creep any closer. Penn won the draw and had its chances, including two great looks from Maddie Poplawski, but the Blue Devils finally made the one big stop and ran out the clock on the game - and Penn's season.
Poplawski and Bunting each finished with four draw controls, while Miller's two caused turnovers led the team (seven other players had one caused turnover for the Quakers). In addition to her nine saves, Leitner had four ground balls and a caused turnover.
The loss was Penn's first in three tries in the NCAA Tournament to Duke with wins in the 2008 national semifinals and 2009 national quarterfinals. For the Quakers, the defeat in the first round was the first since the 1984 NCAA Tournament (18-1 at Delaware) and makes the Red and Blue 5-2 all-time in the NCAA First Round. In addition, Penn is now 3-2 all-time vs. ACC schools in the NCAA Tournament.
Overall, Penn finishes the 2011 season with an 11-6 record. Along the way, the Quakers claimed a fifth Ivy League title in a row and reached double figures in wins for the sixth consecutive year. The 11 wins are tied for sixth-best in a single season by a Penn team.
Download: Duke NCAAs.pdf