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HEARTBROKEN: Quakers Fall in NCAA Lacrosse Semis

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Courtesy of Penn Athletic Communications

TOWSON, Md. -- In a two-overtime classic, the University of Pennsylvania women's lacrosse team fell to undefeated Northwestern, 13-12, in an NCAA semifinal matchup at Johnny Unitas Stadium in Towson, Md., Friday night. The Quakers rallied from four goals down in the final seven minutes to send the game into overtime.

After three straight goals from Northwestern, Penn trailed 11-7 with 9:14 remaining in the game. But Penn was unfazed by the deep deficit to the four-time defending national champions. The Quakers scored the final four goals of regulation to send the game into overtime. Samantha Bird tied the game with 1:30 left--the first time the game had been tied since the opening draw control. Northwestern held possession as the clock wound down, but the Quakers defense didn't even allow a shot to send the game into overtime.

Penn scored first in overtime when freshman Erin Brennan put the Quakers up 12-11 with 10 seconds left in the first half of the extra session. However, as time expired, the Wildcats were able to flick the ball in and tie the game at 12-12 heading into the second frame of overtime. Northwestern won the draw control and held the ball until the final 30 seconds when Emily Szelest made the save to send the game into sudden death.

Northwestern took an early lead, scoring the first three goals of the game within the first five minutes. The Quakers were slow to start and were punished for their mistakes with two turnovers converted to goals.

Sophomore Giulia Giordano opened the Quakers scoring with a free position shot 12 minutes into the game. Over the next four minutes, Quakers found their footing and closed the defecit to one, 4-3, with 14:30 remaining and were within a goal of the at the half, 5-4.

It was an 8-7 game midway through the second half before the Wildcats scored three unanswered to open up their biggest lead of the game at 11-7.

Facing their largest deficit of the game, Penn scored four goals in the final 6:22 of regulation to stage one of the most exciting comebacks in recent memory.

In the overtime, Northwestern won the opening draw, but Emma Spiro was able to pry the ball away and give Penn a go on attack. After Northwestern was called for a foul inside the eight meters, the Quakers tried the trick that won them the 2008 NCAA semifinal -- a pass from the center hash to crease for the tip in. Giordano gathered the pass and fired, but Morgan Lathrop was quick with the save, but not with the rebound. Giordano took another shot, this time wide to Edwards. The senior cooly fed Brennan at the side of the crease. The rookie fired once pulling Lathrop out of position on the play and then gathered the rebound and gave the Quakers their first lead of the day.

With 11 seconds to go in the first three-minute period, Northwestern again won the draw and got the equalizer. The second three-minutes saw saves on both ends before the game was sent to sudden death.

In the game, Giordano converted all three of her free position opportunities for her first hat trick of the season, and second of her Penn career. Incidentally, her other three-goal outing was in last season's win over the Wildcats at Franklin Field.

Junior standout Ali DeLuca had her third four-goal game for Penn this season and was a major factor in both of the Quakers' comebacks in the game. In her 55th game, her four goals gave her exactly 100 in her career. She is the sixth Quaker to ever reach the century mark in goals. In Penn's other top-10 lists, DeLuca continues to climb. She has 137 points which is good for sixth all time and her 37 assists is seventh. In the single-season categories, her 55 points and 40 goals both tie for third. She shares her points stat with Rachel Manson's 2008 season while DeLuca's goal output hasn't been seen since the 1970s and 80s.

- A.S.