Ivy League Lacrosse Tournament: Penn Secures Title, 7-5, Over Harvard

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Quakers are heading to the NCAA Tournament. The Crimson will wait to see what their postseason fate holds.

Pennsylvania held Harvard scoreless for 44:58 and weathered their own 19:27 scoring drought to move past the Crimson at Harvard Stadium, 7-5. The win gives the Quakers their first Ivy League lacrosse title of any kind since 1988, a year in which Pennsylvania made a trip to Championship Weekend.

Brian Feeney anchored Penn's efforts, making 12 huge saves while Zack Losco pitched in three goals for the Quakers. Danny Feeney won 11 of 12 faceoffs for Pennsylvania against Harvard, which is grounds for rebooting America's favorite game show -- "Did Faceoff Success Determine the Margin on the Scoreboard? (Answer: Probably Not!)"

"Welcome to 'Did Faceoff Success Determine the Margin on the Scoreboard? (Answer: Probably Not!).' You may remember this show as 'Dependent and Independent Variables,' but we rebranded the show because people hate science and context and prefer to watch real housewives do very fake things. This is the game show where we ask regular people that often jump to quick conclusions whether lacrosse faceoffs significantly impacted the outcome of a lacrosse game."

"We have two contestants today. Contestant One hails from DeWitt, New York. His name is Jim and he believes that faceoff men are specialists with no soul. In his own words, he's 'sick and tired of those bums ruining things' and thinks that faceoffs should be shot to the moon and buried on the United States' garbage dump up there. Give a warm welcome to Jim!"

"Good to be here, Ted. Faceoff men are evil Satan-worshippers."

"Thanks, Jim. Contestant Two comes to us from Hartford, Connecticut. He enjoys growing mustaches and telling people that they should paint flames on things so that those things look faster. Please welcome Carl!"

"You should paint flames on this lectern, Ted. Vroom-vroom!"

"Have you seen a medical professional lately, Carl?"

"Nope!"

"Terrific. Okay, here's our fact pattern: Pennsylvania wins 11 of 15 faceoffs against Harvard. Pennsylvania beats Harvard, 7-5. Did faceoff success determine the margin on the scoreboard? Jim -- your answer, please."

"Definitely, Ted. Pennsylvania used their black faceoff magic and ruined the game. Penn doesn't win the game unless they totally ruin the game by winning almost 75 percent of the faceoffs. Easy question, Ted."

"Okay, thanks Jim. Carl -- your answer, please?"

"I'm going to go with the odds here, Ted, and say 'Probably Not.'"

"Okay, so Jim's going with 'Faceoff Men Should be Murdered' and Carl is saying that the outcome of the game probably wasn't influenced by faceoff play. Is everyone ready for the answer?"

"You know it, Ted."

"Faceoff me should be burned at the stake as witches."

"Fantastic. Before I give you both the answer, here are some important facts that I accidentally forgot to tell you: Of Harvard's five goals, just one came directly from an offensive possession earned from a faceoff win; four of Harvard's five goals came directly from defensive stops, with a Jake Gambitsky save and successful Harvard clear contributing one tally and Penn turning the ball over three times -- two were unforced and one was caused -- that gave Harvard possession of the ball and a chance to score."

"Those sound like lies, Ted. Did a faceoff man tell you to say that, Ted?"

"Shut up, Jim. Now, for Penn -- two goals came from offensive possessions earned directly from faceoff wins, with one of those goals attributed to Harvard committing and penalty and the Quakers scoring on the extra-man. Five of Penn's goals, however, were earned directly from defensive stops -- three possessions started with a Feeney save while two others were attributable to the Quakers generating a caused turnover against the Crimson."

"So, you're telling me that five of Penn's goals were the direct result of playing good defense and getting stops with one more due partly to Harvard doing something dumb? Are you one of them, Ted? Are you a faceoff man that ruins things? Everyone knows that if you win a faceoff you automatically score. Defenses don't -- and shouldn't be asked to -- make defensive stops. As there were only 15 faceoffs there were only 15 possessions. Right? Right?! There's no way that the run of play ultimately dictates more outcomes than faceoff play!"

"I'm pretty sure that you're drunk, Jim. That means that Carl is our winner!"

"What do I win, Jim?"

"The grand prize, Carl -- the right to bludgeon Jim with a tire iron!"

"All right! Can I have one with flames on it?"

"That's it for this week, folks! We'll see you next time!"

Basically, the bulk of the game turned on (1) everybody committing turnovers and whether a team took advantage of those giveaways (six of Harvard's 14 turnovers were caused; nine of Penn's 19 turnovers were caused); (2) the ability to get stops through opponent turnovers or incredible saves from each team's goalkeepers; and (3) Penn's defense putting the Crimson's offense into a deep freeze, shutting Harvard down for amost 75 percent of the game. Penn's dominance at the dot meant little to the final outcome; what mattered is that while Penn was looser with the ball than Harvard its defense was more stout. It didn't matter that Pennsylvania simply won a lot of faceoffs; it matters -- as it always does -- what the Quakers did with those possessions, how Harvard responded to those postures, and what happened when teams started trading opportunities. On the balance of those things, the Quakers prevailed.

TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE

TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE: PENNSYLVANIA v. HARVARD
METRIC PENNSYLVANIA HARVARD
Possession Margin +3 -3
Raw Offensive Efficiency 21.21 16.67
Raw Offensive Shooting Rate 24.14% 13.51%
Shots per Offensive Opportunity 0.88 1.23
Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities 57.58 46.67
Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions 28.57 36.57
Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities 40.00 36.36
Team Save Percentage 70.95% 63.16%

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