Upset Bid Falls Short as No. 5 Penn Eludes Yale 7-5

Michele Fiorentino, Whitney Quackenbush and Claire Eliasberg. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)
Michele Fiorentino, Whitney Quackenbush and Claire Eliasberg. (photo by Sam Rubin '95, Yale Sports Publicity)

Flatley Gets First Career Hat Trick

NEW HAVEN, Conn. – In search of a major upset, Yale did almost everything it needed to do to knock off No. 5 Penn Saturday afternoon at Reese Stadium. The Bulldogs controlled the pace for the majority of the game, including limiting Penn’s powerful offense to just one goal in the first half. Yale twice trailed by two goals in the second half, but rallied back to tie the game 5-5 on a goal by senior attacker Jessica Sturgill with 9:30 to play. But in the end the Quakers got the two goals they needed in the final five minutes of the game, edging Yale 7-5 to extend their Ivy League winning streak to 24 games.

“We controlled the tempo of the game beautifully and made shots when we had them,” said Anne Phillips, Yale’s Joel E. Smilow, Class of 1954 Head Coach of Women’s Lacrosse. “We couldn’t have played any harder. But if you take away some of our unforced turnovers, this could have been a different result.”

Whereas Yale was coming off a pair of one-goal wins, the defending Ivy champion Quakers had beaten their last two opponents 30-6 -- including a 14-0 rout of St. Joseph’s on Wednesday. But it was clear from the start this game was going to be different. The Bulldog defense had its hands full with Penn’s offensive weapons, which included three Tewaaraton Award watch list selections and six players with eight goals or more, but Yale was up to the task. This was just the third time in the last 10 games that Penn scored fewer than 10 goals.

“We had matchups on [midfielder] Ali DeLuca, [attacker] Giulia Giordano, [midfielder] Emma Spiro and [attacker] Courtney Lubbe,” said Phillips. “Defensively, we executed very well and limited their opportunities.”

Less than five minutes in, the Bulldogs took advantage of a Penn turnover on the opening possession and set up their offense. They eventually got the ball in the stick of junior midfielder/defender Kaitlyn Flatley, who earlier in the possession had chased down a loose ball to help avoid a Yale turnover. Flatley, who had the game-winner with nine seconds left in Wednesday’s 8-7 win over Brown, got Saturday’s scoring started by driving to the goal and earning a free position shot that she converted for a 1-0 lead at 25:39.

Penn (6-1, 2-0 Ivy League) turned the ball over on its next two possessions, and Flatley made the Quakers pay for the second by driving and scoring at 16:29. That was the first time the Quakers had fallen behind by two goals in game since their 11-6 loss at No. 4 North Carolina two weeks earlier.

Penn responded by catching the Bulldogs in transition after a turnover, with attacker Erin Brennan feeding attacker Bridget Waclawik to make the score 2-1 Yale at 11:00.

That was the end of the scoring for the half, thanks in part to a big save from sophomore goalkeeper Whitney Quackenbush on Brennan with 6:30 to play. She finished with six saves on the day. But right at the end of the first half a yellow card on sophomore attacker Caroline Crow wound up impacting the start of the second half. Off the draw the Quakers pushed the ball up using their numbers advantage and forced senior defender Michele Fiorentino into a foul that resulted in another yellow card. DeLuca converted the free position attempt to tie the score.

With one of Yale’s best defenders and one of Yale’s speediest players still out with yellow cards, the Quakers nearly took advantage to grab the lead a minute later. But Quackenbush was able to make a save after Brennan drew a free position attempt.

Penn had momentum, though, and used it to get a free position goal by Brennan and a goal by DeLuca from Brennan after a Yale turnover to go up 4-2 with 23:12 left in the game. Flatley scored on a free position six minutes later, but a minute after that Giordano put Penn back up by two.

The Bulldogs would not go quietly, however. A year after losing all 14 draw controls in a 10-2 loss to the Quakers, they started stemming the tide Saturday by putting junior attacker/midfielder Ariana Papier in to take the draws in the second half. Papier began consistently directing the ball right where the Bulldogs needed it, and at one point Yale won four of six draws -- three for junior midfielder Logan Greer and one for freshman defender Chloë Drimal. That helped fuel a comeback, as Crow drove in from the side for a goal at 12:34 and the Bulldogs just missed converting the draw after that into a fast-break goal.

Yale got the tying goal at 9:30 when senior attacker Jenna Block set up Sturgill, who had entered the game for the first time four minutes earlier. That prompted a timeout by Penn.

The Bulldogs got the next draw but turned the ball over, then turned it over again three minutes later after Giordano hit the cross bar with a shot. The Quakers took advantage of their second chance, as Waclawik put home a feed from Giordano at 4:50 to make it 6-5 Penn.

Giordano scored again after DeLuca got the draw control, and that wound up being enough to hold off the Bulldogs. Penn goalkeeper Emily Szelest, who finished with four saves, stopped a shot by Block with two minutes to play and the Quakers were able to run out the clock.

“I’m sure a lot of people are going to look at how close the final score was and say ‘Wow’,” Phillips said. “But as a coach, and as a team, you can’t be satisfied. We were close, but close doesn’t get it done.”

Harvard’s 10-4 win over Cornell Saturday leaves Penn as the only 2-0 Ivy team. Dartmouth and Princeton, who did not play league games Saturday, are both 1-0.

Yale (3-4, 1-1 Ivy League) plays at No. 11 BU Wednesday. The Terriers lost to No. 15 Notre Dame 7-6 in double overtime Saturday, but beat Harvard 13-9 in the previous game.

Report by Sam Rubin ’95 (, Yale Sports Publicity