Penn's Ivy League Tournament Fate Out of Its Own Hands


It’s anyone’s guess what awaits Penn in May.

The Ivy League tournament? Possibly, with Princeton’s cooperation this weekend.

The NCAA tournament? Probably, though the Quakers would be well-served defeating Albany (5-8) on Saturday in their regular-season finale.

But whatever is still to come, it probably will feature close games. It’s what Penn (7-4) has done all year.

Tuesday’s 13-12 overtime defeat of Saint Joseph’s was unusual only because the Quakers trailed 10-5 with 13 minutes to play. Considering Penn’s 11 games have been decided by a total of 21 goals, a five-goal margin was considerably out of place.

“It’s been dramatic, to say the least, but I’m proud of our team for persevering,” coach Mike Murphy said Friday. “Tuesday night, we were down pretty significantly and kind of just stuck with our plan and played a little better. It’s kind of been the story of the whole season.”

The Quakers scrambled back to get within 10-8 before Hawks faceoff ace Zach Cole scored. Penn got within 11-10 before yielding an extra-man goal, then got a pair of scores in the final 3:21 to force overtime. James Shipley’s winner with 40 seconds left in the extra period extended the Quakers’ winning streak to three.

It wasn’t Penn’s biggest deficit of the season; it trailed 9-3 to Princeton in its Ivy League opener. But that game, too, wound up going to overtime, with the Tigers claiming a 21-20 victory.

The Quakers are 4-2 in one-goal games, and 0-2 in games decided by two goals. Their most lopsided games were four-goal defeats of Cornell and Dartmouth.

“When you look at this and we’ve won a bunch of one-goal games, well, we’ve also lost a couple of one-goal games,” Murphy said. “You can say we’ve barely won seven games, but we also lost overtime games that we could have won to Yale and to Princeton. We lose to Brown by two. Maybe we’re barely in this position, but we’re also not too far away from being in a lot better situation, too.”

Penn could add to its resume, which includes victories over Cornell, Duke and Harvard, in the Ivy League tournament. The Quakers won’t have any say in that as the one Ivy without a conference game this week.

Murphy has tried not to concern himself with such matters with a non-conference finale still in front of the Quakers.

“Hopefully, we’ll play well against Albany, and after that game, I’m sure I’ll have plenty of people tell me how it affects us,” Murphy said. “I really can’t even make myself care that much about it. Obviously, I care. I’d like to be in the Ivy League tournament, but I have no control over that, and it frankly gives me a headache to look at all the different iterations of what could happen.”

Penn will get in either with a Princeton victory over Cornell, or if a Cornell win is paired with a Brown defeat of Dartmouth and a Yale triumph over Harvard. The Quakers would be the No. 4 seed in any scenario that gets them into the Ivy tournament. For a full breakdown of Ivy tournament scenarios, head here.

Needless to say, if Penn gets in, its semifinal against the top seed should be appointment viewing. There’s every reason to think it will come down to the final minute.


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