PHILADELPHIA, PA. 3/30/2019 – The University of Pennsylvania won a dramatic victory over the #2 and defending national champion Yale Bulldogs 13 – 12 getting the game winner from freshman midfielder Sam Handley 58 seconds into the third overtime period at an energetic Franklin Field.
It was a thriller that was razor thin in sections, then saw huge momentum shifts.
“That was a pretty exciting game, pretty exciting game,” said Penn Coach Mike Murphy searching for a description.
In the 69th minute of play Kyle Gallagher won the faceoff and the Quakers entered the offensive zone. Handley let a shot go from the left side of the circle that beat Bulldogs goal keeper Jack Starr over his near side shoulder. When the net jumped it set off a celebration and a release of emotions on the Penn side.
“I was estatic,” said Handley when he was the net jump. “This was a huge win for the Penn Lacrosse program. The seniors on this team never beat Yale until today. They (the seniors) gave me the confidence to take that shot, and this was for them.”
Getting to that point was the result of an a exciting play. With the Eli leading 12 – 11 on a goal by Matt Gaudet, his third of the game and 23rd of the season, with 2:05 on the clock. Yale won the faceoff, but turned the ball over at the 32 second mark on a shot clock violation. Senior midfielder Tyler Dunn brought the ball up for the Red and Blue, but had trouble beating the Eli defensive pressure. He just got the ball past midfield just in time, then as the clock would down Dunn got the ball. The feeling was that Dunn might not let the shot go into time, but he did. The clock ticked down and Dunn looked for an opening. He found one to the right of the crease that hit the back of the net an instant before the horn. Enter the overtime tied at 12.
“I got it off in time, but it was cutting it down to the wire,” Dunn said. “The bench was loud and energetic.”
“There was a little clock in my head telling me I need to get this off right now or never.”
Yale continued with their offensive pressure out shooting Penn 8 – 2 on the extra periods, and 66 – 47 overall. Reed Junkin, the Quakers senior goal keeper would not allow the ball to get past him and into the net. He made 4 saves in overtime and 22 for the game. He credited the defense for his performance.
“The defense was helping me see that shots that I wanted to see,” said Junkin. “We got turnovers when we needed it. Everyone kept their composure and realized we had a big opportunity.”
Junkin, too, was happy to see the ball cross the Yale goal line.
“When it went at the end, I was so relieved,” Junkin said. “The past three years they ended our season. It’s great to finally come out on top in some of the close games we’ve had in the past.”
Penn led by 10 – 7 after three periods. That lead disappeared in the fourth quarter. Back and forth, back and forth. The Quakers called on their resilience to pull this one out.
“Our team is all about facing adversity at this point,” Dunn said. “We had the toughest schedule. Our freshman aren’t freshman anymore. We are all veterans at this point.”
Dylan Gerger led the Red and Blue with 3 goals. Handley had a team-best 4 points scoring 2 goals and assisting twice. He leads the team in points with 31.
Penn improves to 5-3 overall and 3 – 0 in the Ivy League sharing the top spot with Brown. A cause for celebration, but Murphy knows there is more work to be done.
“It’s big, but it’s still March,” Murphy said about the win. “We beat the number one team in the country last year, Duke, but we didn’t finish very well. We are 5 – 3 and it’s still March 30th. It is what it is.”
Written By: Glenn Papazian