Boris Tsang / Sun Assistant Photography Editor

In its home opener, Cornell dropped a tight game to nationally-ranked Penn State.

February 26, 2019

Women’s Lacrosse Loses Tight Battle to No. 11 Penn State in Home Opener

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Despite an even second half, Cornell women’s lacrosse ultimately succumbed to No. 11 Penn State, 14-12, in a narrow loss.

Cornell (0-2) headed into its home opener looking for its first win of the season, but two yellow cards and a rough opening to the second half left Penn State (3-0) with the slight edge.

The Nittany Lions were the first to get on the board after a yellow card on Cornell junior defender Taylor Lis gave them a man-up advantage. The visitors also tallied the next two goals to take an early 3-0 lead, but the Red then netted four unanswered goals of its own to take the lead, 4-3, about halfway through the first half.

Penn State then went on a scoring rampage of its own, scoring the next four goals to take a three-goal lead. The teams then traded goals until a shot from senior captain and attacker Sarah Phillips found the back of the net with a little over three minutes left in the first half to shrink Penn State’s lead to two.

However, within the first five minutes of the second half, the Nittany Lions scored four unanswered goals to extend their lead to six. Freshman midfielder Genevieve DeWinter then put an end to Penn State’s scoring streak by netting two consecutive goals and cutting the Nittany Lions’ lead to four.

After another Penn State goal, the Red scored three in a row to shrink the Nittany Lions’ lead even further to two with a little over 11 minutes left to play. However, after a Cornell yellow card on freshman midfielder Reilly Fletcher, Penn State capitalized on its second man-up opportunity of the game to extend its lead to three again.

Freshman midfielder Shannon Brazier put the Red back in striking distance, scoring her first career goal with a little less than eight minutes on the clock. However, neither team was able to find the net for the rest of the game and the Nittany Lions walked away with the win.

Junior captain and midfielder Caroline Allen led the way for the Red with six points (two goals and four assists) and Phillips was close behind with four goals. DeWinter netted three goals of her own and sophomore midfielder Ellie Walsh, senior attacker Shannon Bertscha and Brazier each found the back of the net once. Walsh was also outstanding on the draw, winning a career-high seven faceoffs.

Junior goalkeeper Katie McGahan was outstanding in the crease, tallying nine saves and fielding three ground balls.

“I think our team showed a lot of growth from last week against Villanova to this week against Penn State,” said junior captain and defender Mary Kate Bonanni. “It wasn’t the outcome we wanted. But we had great energy on the field and played with heart the entire game, which made all the difference out there.”

Though it did not achieve the end result it was looking for, the Red proved its ability to compete with a nationally ranked team — both squads took 23 shots on goal, caused 10 turnovers and fielded 15 ground balls. The Red had the advantage in draw controls, winning 15 to Penn State’s 13.

The match against the Red also marked the closest game of the season for Penn State, whose previous two matches were won by an average margin of eight goals.

“After this past weekend, [the team] realizes our potential since Penn State is such a good team,” Allen said. “We want to continue to improve and build off the lessons learned from our games so far.”

Primed to work for its first win of the season and to open up conference play, the Red will return to Schoellkopf Field on Saturday noon to face Ivy League rival Harvard.

“We’ve got to stay in a growth mindset — learning and improving with every game and every practice,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “Starting conference play this weekend is exciting. The competition in the Ivy League is always intense and [we] will be hungry for our first win of the year.”