PRINCETON, N.J. – The Dartmouth women’s lacrosse team was so close to pulling off an incredible comeback Friday afternoon at Princeton’s Class of 1952 Stadium. 

Trailing by as many as eight in the second half, the third-seeded Big Green (11-5) fought and clawed their way back, but eventually ran out of time as second-seeded Penn (13-3) held on for a 16-14 win. 

“This is a team of warriors,” head coach Danielle Spencer said. “I am so incredibly proud of the way we responded in the second half. Every player on our sideline should hold her head high with pride for what we saw today.

“This is the first time in the postseason for our players and for them to respond the way they did against a team like Penn, who is a perennial national tournament team, showed the type of team we are and are going to be,” Spencer added. “We showed we belonged today. We’ll be back again next season.”

The Quakers held a 10-4 lead at halftime and looked like they would run away with the game as two quick scores to open the second gave them a 12-4 lead. But Dartmouth would not go away quietly.

The Green and White finished scoring seven of the final eight goals, a run that was sparked by an awesome display of dominance on the draw control, led by Kathryn Giroux and her 16. Prior to Friday, the Ivy League Tournament record for draw controls by a team in a game had been 15, a feat accomplished four times, including twice by Dartmouth. 

The Big Green held a 15-2 edge in the second half and a 26-6 total overall. 

If Giroux and the draw control started the plays that sparked rally, it was offensive prowess of Katie Bourque and Kierra Sweeney that finished it. Bourque scored four goals in the game, while Sweeney found the back of the net three times. Each netted one in the opening half, finding their scoring touch in the second stanza when their team needed it most. 

What made the comeback all the more impressive is Dartmouth did so without 50-goal scorer Ellie Carson, who went down in the game’s opening minutes with an injury and did not return. 

Michelle Yu came off the bench to score once in each half, while Tori Chanenchuk, Campbell Brewer, Elizabeth Mastrio and Kellen D’Alleva all had one in the rally. Larson Bennett had her team’s final goal of the opening half. 

Elyse Decker had a game-high five goals for Penn, three in the first half. Zoe Belodeau, Caroline Cummings and Gabby Rosenzweig all scored twice for the Quakers. 

Sophomore and 2018 Ivy League Goalkeeper of the Year Kiera Sweeney made a pair of saves in each half. Her counterpart in Penn’s Mikaila Cheeseman posted 11 saves in the contest, including five in the second when the Green and White held a 26-13 advantage in shot attempts.

Dartmouth now waits to see if their resurgent season is good enough to earn them a spot in the 2018 NCAA Tournament. The selection show for the national postseason’s field of 26 will be announced Sunday night at 9:30 p.m.

NOTES: This was Dartmouth’s first appearance in the Ivy League Tournament since 2013… Kathryn Giroux now has games of 19, 17 and 16 draw controls, the three-best marks by any player in the nation this season… Giroux now has 258 draws in her career, the second-best total in conference history.