Even though the Penn field hockey team is coming off of its first Ivy win, 4-1 over Harvard, the Quakers are far from off the hook.
That’s because they’ll host Patriot League powerhouse Lafayette (7-1) tonight at Franklin Field.
The Leopards’ star-studded offense — which has taken nearly twice as many shots as its opponents this season (102-63) — is led by freshman midfielder Deanna DiCroce, who was named two-time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week, as well as Rookie of the Week for last week’s performance. She has scored five of Lafayette’s 15 goals in 2009.
Perhaps even more daunting than the Lafayette juggernaut offense is Patriot League Goalkeeper of the Week Kelsey Andersen. The junior has already posted four shutouts in her team’s eight games and boasts a meagre 1.05 goals-against average.
Fortunately for Penn (3-5), it wields its own freshman offensive weapon in Sarah Hasson. The Warrington, Pa., native was named the Ivy League Rookie of the Week for the second week in a row, and accounted for half of Penn’s goals in its recent conquest of the Crimson.
“If you have confidence in yourself and you have confidence in your team, you are going to score,” Hasson said. “We just need to work in the circle and get fouls, and really work together. If we just do that, the outcome will be great.”
Hasson and the rest of the Quakers’ offense look to pressure Lafayette’s defense with crisp passes and clean shots.
On the other side of the field in Penn’s cage is goalie Kieran Sweeney. Sweeney played immaculately in Penn’s win over Harvard, allowing only one goal in a 14-shot onslaught. She knows that she will be squaring off against a much more powerful offense this evening.
“I just need to have strong communication with my defense,” Sweeney said. “It’s from the defense up.”
Although this is a non-conference game, Penn’s approach is no different than it was before traveling to Boston.
“The mentality doesn’t change,” assistant coach Dallas Alexander said. “It just doesn’t. In every game we look to grow and develop and effectively hone our tactical skills in preparation for the next game.
“Most importantly, we look for leadership in every game. Starting with the upperclassmen and trickling down to the freshmen — who have been just an extraordinary class this year.”
The seemingly unstoppable Leopards are coming off of a 3-1 victory over Monmouth Saturday, and are on a five-game winning streak coming into tonight. It will take everything the Red and Blue can muster to snap Lafayette’s win-streak and start one of their own.
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