The men's lacrosse team snapped a three-game losing streak and posted its first Ivy League win in a back-and-forth thriller against No. 12 Penn Saturday on the Bears' home turf. Bruno (4-6, 1-2 Ivy) outscored the Quakers (5-4, 2-2) 10-3 in the middle two quarters and survived a four-goal Penn run in the final 10 minutes to hang on to a 13-12 victory.
"I'm really proud of this team," said Head Coach Lars Tiffany '90. "Having lost some really close games — four overtimes to Princeton, having lost to Bryant by one — it would have been really easy by human nature to start second-guessing ourselves. … But I'm really proud of this team for sticking together and fighting through the adversity we've faced and continuing to believe in each other. And we saw that today — we played some of our best lacrosse today."
"I feel like it was finally the first time we've put together a good, complete game," said attacker Parker Brown '12, who scored four goals on the day. "It was a little scary at the end — I think we got a little complacent with the score — but overall, it feels great to finally get an Ivy League win, especially on our home field."
Rob Schlesinger '12 helped spearhead the Bear's attack with four goals of his own, as well as two assists, in a breakout six-point performance. The two attackers, along with David Hawley '11, who scored his 12th goal in five games, stepped up in the absence of tri-captain and scoring leader Andrew Feinberg '11, who has missed the last three games with a concussion.
"It's the first time our offense has really clicked all year," Schlesinger said. "Defense has been carrying us all season, and it's about time the offense finally got it together and scored a few goals, so that was huge for us."
"I was really impressed with Rob Schlesinger, who's struggled scoring, but had some huge goals for us today," Tiffany said. "And Parker Brown. He's getting the best defensemen from the opposing team. He's getting beat on, yet he continues to run through checks and make plays and prove that he's one of the better attackmen in the league."
Schlesinger kicked off the scoring with an early, unassisted goal. After a Penn score tied the game, the Bears regained the lead on Parker Brown's first goal. He was left all alone on the doorstep for the easy finish thanks to a Quaker defensive miscommunication. But Penn responded in a big way, scoring four times to close out the first quarter with a 5-2 lead. The last goal came in the final seconds of Penn's man advantage following a slashing call on tri-captain defenseman Peter Fallon '11.
It looked like it might be a long day for Bruno supporters at Stevenson Field, but a huge second quarter in which the Bears outscored Penn 6-1 proved to be a turning point. Parker Brown scored twice in the quarter's first five minutes to bring the Bears within a goal. On the second finish, Parker Brown had an easy flick-in from point blank thanks to a heads-up pass from Schlesinger. The Bears tied the game less than four minutes later on a great individual effort by Sam Ford '13. The defenseman broke up a pass in his own half and scooped up the ground ball before racing coast to coast for the unassisted goal.
"We've been joking in practice that our D's finally going to get a goal," Schlesinger said. "Sam's been saying he's going to get a goal, and he finally stuck that, and that really got our team going."
But the Bears were not done yet. In an isolation play, Schlesinger was alone alongside the net but kicked it out to midfielder Jeffrey Foote '11, who buried the long-range shot to give Bruno a 6-5 lead. Penn quickly tied the game, but the Bears closed the quarter with scores from Hawley and Schlesinger to give the home side an 8-6 advantage heading into intermission.
At the start of the second half though, Penn caught the Bears asleep and tied the game a mere 31 seconds after the faceoff. Penn's Alek Ferro scored from long range when he saw goalie Matt Chriss '11 out of position. Twenty-three seconds later, Nick Richards took advantage of a miscommunication on the Bear's end to put home an easy goal.
But again, the Bears regrouped and answered. Teddy Daiber '11 and Parker Brown scored in quick succession, and the Bears regained a two-goal lead. On a man advantage after Penn was penalized for too many players on the field, Foote scored his second goal with a clever finish as he slipped in front of the net and bounced his shot past Penn goalie Brian Feeney. Schlesinger's third of the day stretched the Bear's lead to 12-8 before the quarter's close.
Schlesinger scored again early in the fourth to give the Bears a 13-8 cushion, but a late Quaker surge in the final 10 minutes almost pushed the game into overtime.
Goals from Al Kohart, Morgan Griff and Ryan Parietti cut the lead to 13-11 with just over three minutes left in regulation. Griff again scored in transition off a Bruno turnover with 32 seconds left to make it a one-goal game. The Quakers won the ensuing faceoff, but Chriss made a huge stop with 13 seconds left. But his clearing pass was intercepted, and Penn had another chance. Maxx Meyer's final shot attempt for the Quakers flew wide, icing the 13-12 win and prompting a collective exhale at Stevenson Field.
"Little bit of a nail biter there at the end, but we got it done," Schlesinger said.
Tiffany said he was proud of the way his team performed but was quick to point out the game's conclusion as evidence that the team needs improvement in certain areas.
"We didn't make plays at the very end of the game," Tiffany said. "We had turnover after turnover. We held on, and Matt Chriss made a bunch of big saves, but there were a lot of decisions at the end of the game that were not smart plays — that were not plays that you'd like to have in the future in big games."
The win moves the Bears to 1-2 in conference play and sends the rest of the Ivy League a message that despite the team's disappointing start, it has no plans of packing it in this season.
"Teams have been looking over us — I think Penn looked over us a little bit at the beginning of the game," Schlesinger said. At "0-2 in the Ivy League, this game is a turning point for our season. … If we lost this game, it's pretty much over — 0-3 in the Ivy League, it's tough to make the tournament like that."
Tiffany pointed to the importance of the game to the team's mindset rather than the standings. He said he wanted the team to focus its energy on next week's opponent — No. 17 Yale — instead of thinking about any postseason play.
"This is just one win," he said. "I don't want to worry about the Ivy League playoffs or anything like that. It gives us a big win, and we're going to appreciate it for what it is. It's a win over a very good Penn team who's No. 12 in the country. And that's it."