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Penn Defeats Dartmouth in Women's Lacrosse Championship

Dartmouth’s Liz Calby, right, reaches around Penn goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson (99) for a late goal during the Big Green’s 10-7 loss to the Quakers in the Ivy League women’s lacrosse championship game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia yesterday. Calby led Dartmouth with four goals and one assist. (Valley News - Greg Fennell)

Dartmouth’s Liz Calby, right, reaches around Penn goalkeeper Lucy Ferguson (99) for a late goal during the Big Green’s 10-7 loss to the Quakers in the Ivy League women’s lacrosse championship game at Franklin Field in Philadelphia yesterday. Calby led Dartmouth with four goals and one assist. (Valley News - Greg Fennell) Purchase photo reprints »

Philadelphia — Want to know something about good looks? Talk to Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn.

Want to know what to do with good looks? The Penn women’s lacrosse team made that fashion statement time and again in stopping Dartmouth, 10-7, in the Ivy League championship game at Franklin Field yesterday.

The top-seeded Quakers (11-5) would have found themselves in an even contest with the third-seeded Big Green (10-7) had it not been for the women’s lacrosse curiosity that is the free position. Fouls inside the seven-yard scoring fan are punished with open scoring chances for the fouled player, an inviting opportunity.

Penn converted on five of its six such chances yesterday, three of which gave the Quakers a first-half cushion they rode to their second Ivy tournament title in its four-year history and the program’s ninth league crown overall. By comparison, Dartmouth converted on just one of its six free positions in defeat.

The victory also guaranteed Penn a spot in the NCAA tournament later this month.

Dartmouth will also be in the tourney, earning an at-large bid to give the Ivies 3 teams — along with Princeton — in the field.

The Big Green will play against Boston College Friday at Syracuse.

“If the ball falls one way or a goal goes in here or we get a stop there … there were a lot of game-changing moments,” Dartmouth coach Amy Patton said. “A lot of those moments didn’t go in our favor. Had they, you just don’t know what could happen.”

Penn won the game in the first half, holding the Big Green off the scoreboard for the final 25 minutes, 12 seconds up to the break.

The Quakers’ first three goals all came on free positions. Senior Maddie Poplawski drew and delivered the first after just 55 seconds, with Caroline Bunting and Courtney Tomchik following suit about four minutes apart midway through the half for a 3-1 lead.

The hosts finally scored in the run of play at 10:03 on an Iris Williamson bullet past Dartmouth goalkeeper Kristen Giovanniello (nine saves). That looked just fine until Bunting delivered the second of her four-goal tally just 11 seconds before halftime.

“When they fouled us, we made it count,” Penn coach Karin Corbett said. “We were very good today on the free positions, and I think that was a big difference in the game.”

Poplawski added another free position strike 1:59 into the second half for a 6-1 lead, the type of conversion that defenses are often helpless to stop.

“You get off the line quickly, if you’re next to the ball; if not next to the ball, you have to be loud,” Dartmouth senior midfielder Courtney Bennett said. “You hope that your goalie is coming up with the save. … You just have to try and get off the line quickly, try to get a stick on it and try to rattle them.”

Energized by the play of junior attack Liz Calby, Dartmouth clawed back into the contest, but not enough to put a big scare into Penn.

When Calby (four goals, one assist) and senior Hana Bowers (three goals, one assist) struck to cut Penn’s lead to 6-3 early in the second half, the Quakers ran off three straight goals to silence the surge. When Calby and Bowers did it again to close to 9-5 with 13:44 left, Penn stretched out its possessions and used a key conversion from senior Meredith Cain to put the game away.

“Liz and Hana work really well together; they’re very dynamic in their play,” Patton said. “Great sticks, nose for the goal, but also a nose to hit the open player. They’re obviously our two best attackers without a question. … They are two that can get you goals pretty quickly.”

But there’s only so much a team can fashion when its giving the opposition free looks at goals. A 29-19 discrepancy in fouls against a bigger team ultimately did the Big Green in.

“I’m really proud of the team; we came out on fire and built the lead early,” Corbett said. “The team produced a lot of good looks and caused some problems for their defense. They really wanted it out there and worked so hard to go out and get it done.”

Lax Facts: Score a win for Dartmouth in l’affaire des uniforms. Athletic department authorities contacted Pat Dillon, the secretary rules editor for the NCAA women’s lacrosse committee, after game officials in the Big Green’s 11-10 semifinal win ruled that the team’s uniform numbers didn’t contrast enough from its jerseys, a decision that could have led to a key change of possession in the contest. Dillon told Dartmouth the rule had been misapplied, so Dartmouth suited up yesterday in the same shirts it had all year — the ones with white-bordered numbers that were easily readable from distance inside sunny Franklin Field. … The Quakers and Big Green have met in three of the league’s four tournament finales. Penn avenged a 6-4 defeat from last May in which Dartmouth held the Quakers without a goal over the final 43 minutes and change. … Bowers, Bennett, Calby and midfielder Kelsey Johnson represented Dartmouth on the all-tournament team. Bowers scored eight goals over the two games to set a tournament record, besting the mark of Princeton’s Jack Gassaway from two years ago. … Penn goalie Lucy Ferguson made eight saves and was chosen the tourney’s most outstanding player. Her 20 stops over two contests set a new tournament standard.

Greg Fennell can be reached at gfennell@vnews.com or 603-727-3226.