PHILADELPHIA - The weather during the first half of Sunday's Ivy League Women's Lacrosse Championship Game was cold and cloudy. The second half at Dunning-Cohen Champions Field at Penn Park was a much different story as the sun broke through the clouds and the temperature at field level increased.
During the overcast period, top-seeded Penn held a 3-0 lead on its home field, but when the skies broke and the sun finally reached the turf, the second-seeded team from Dartmouth began a comeback that eventually culminated in a 6-4 victory.
A part of each of the three league postseason tournaments, the title was the first for Dartmouth. After dropping six straight to Penn over the last half decade, the Big Green exacted revenge on its Ivy foe, taking two wins from them this season, including Sunday's title contest.
The Quakers may have scored the game's opening three goals, but a methodical Big Green attack and a composed defense was the defining factor for the final 40 minutes to earn the championship and the league's automatic berth into the NCAA Tournament next weekend.
"I said to the team at halftime that I was happy we were down 3-1," head coach Amy Patton said. "With how we were playing, to only be down two goals, I felt we were in a good position. That worked the team up because it seemed like they were down on themselves a bit at that point.
"Hats off to our defense. To hold a team like Penn to only four goals is pretty spectacular," Patton added. "Kelsey (Johnson) was own fire and Georgia (Bird) showed why she is our leader on defense, but our whole defense played really well today."
One of those players on the back end that played well was sophomore goalkeeper Kristen Giovanniello (Old Brookville, N.Y.), who earned Ivy League Tournament Most Outstanding Player honors with 16 saves on the weekend, including eight Sunday.
Despite Dartmouth dominating possession and dictating the tempo of the game early on, it was unable to get anything going offensively that translated to success on the scoreboard. On the other hand, Penn scored three goals in the first 15:30 on far fewer possessions.
That's when the game changed.
The Big Green finally got on the board with 1:38 remaining in the opening half as senior Kirsten Goldberg (Cockeysville, Md.) made it a two-goal game with her third of the weekend. That tally snapped Dartmouth's stretch of 50:03 without a goal dating back to Friday's semifinal with Cornell.
What followed was five more Big Green goals, unanswered by the home team and top seed to pull away, demonstrating an ability to hold high-powered offenses in check for long periods of time as well.
Sophomore Lindsey Allard (Baltimore, Md.) opened the half with a marker nearly seven minutes in. Goldberg's second of the day came soon thereafter, opening the flood gates that saw senior Sarah Plumb (Wellesley, Mass.) and junior Hana Bowers (Old Greenwich, Conn.) add one and two goals, respectively.
Those five goals came in a span of 12:06 to give the visitors a comfortable lead considering the way its defense was playing.
By the time the Quakers' offense was able to get anything going it was too late, scoring the final marker of the day 43:48 after taking the 3-0 lead.
All-Ivy Tournament selections Kelsey Johnson (Hingham, Mass.) and Georgia Bird (Summit, N.J.) anchored the Big Green defense that held Penn to its fewest goals in a game all season and the lowest total since a loss to No. 1 Maryland last season.
If the Quakers were able to get anything through that defense, they were met by Giovanniello in net. The Dartmouth keeper shut down Penn for nearly three-quarters of the game, playing with a determination that led to crucial second-half saves as her team took the lead and the Quakers tried to match.
Plumb, Bowers and Goldberg joined Bird, Johnson and Giovanniello on the all-tournament team for solid play over the course of the weekend.
The comeback win on Penn's home field marked the first time that the Big Green won in Philadelphia since April 16, 2005 when they knocked off the Quakers, 10-8, making Sunday's win for the program and the senior class even more special.