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Dartmouth, Penn Fall in NCAA Women's Lacrosse First Round Action

Penn's Meredith Cain
Penn's Meredith Cain

Portions courtesy of Dartmouth Athletic Communications and Penn Athletic Communications

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Of the three Ivy League women's lacrosse teams to advance to the 2011 NCAA Division I Championship, only Princeton will play in the quarterfinal round as both Dartmouth and Penn dropped their first round games Sunday. The Big Green hosted No. 7 seed Albany, but despite playing on their home field, fell 10-7 to the Great Danes. Meanwhile, in Durham, N.C., the Quakers fell 12-9 to the Blue Devils.

It was a rainsoaked game that contributed to miscues and bad passes for both teams, but it was Albany's plan to possess and stall that allowed the Great Danes (18-0) to hold on for the win. 11th ranked Dartmouth (11-5) was whistled for an uncharacteristic 21 fouls to just nine for Albany and outshot the Great Danes, 24-19.

Dartmouth jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead just five minutes into the game. Albany came back however, and scored two unanswered goals to make it a 3-2 game by the 18:42 mark. It ultimately was a 4-0 Great Dane run to close the half as Allie Phelan put the visitors ahead, 4-3.

The Big Green opened the second half with some renewed energy a tied the game up, 4-4, with a free position goal at 28:41. Albany got the lead right back when Rachael Burek scored off a feed from Persy Sample just 39 seconds later, but Hana Bowers answered back to make it a 5-5 game with 27:22 on the clock.

That was it for offense for a while as both goalies got some steam and the teams continued to go back and forth with both turning it over repeatedly. The Big Green finally got the lead back when Hilary Smith scored at 17:03, up 6-5. The Great Danes snagged the momentum, however, capitalizing on another free position attempt when Nikki Branchini made it a 6-6 game at 15:25. That would ultimately start a 5-0 Albany run, pushed further when Sample made it a 7-6 lead with 13:40 to play.

The real turning point came on the ensuing draw, which Dartmouth won but turned the ball right back over and it proved very costly, as Battaglia scored with a one-timer off a feed from Sample to put the Great Danes up 8-6 with 11:25 on the clock. Albany won the next draw and proceeded to stall, holding the ball on attack for more than five minutes before Kelsey Johnson picked it off with only six minutes to play and brought it into the attacking end. The Big Green could not score, however, as Albany's defense got a big turnover to put the ball back on attack and the clock running. The Great Danes got two more goals including an empty-net score with 2:03 on the clock.

Senior Greta Meyer led Dartmouth with three goals while Bowers added two.

With the loss at No. 5 seed Duke, Penn's run of consecutive trips to the national quarterfinals came to an end at four. 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 goalkeeper Emily Leitner 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.