With the No. 4 team in the country rolling into town tonight, Penn field hockey coach Val Cloud is realistic about her team’s chances of beating rival Princeton.
“I can’t say I look forward to beating them,” she said. “I would like to beat them, but it’s a little unlikely.”
Tonight’s 7:15 p.m. game at Franklin Field concludes Penn’s season, but Princeton (13-2, 6-0 Ivy) is guaranteed to play at least one more: The Tigers clinched at least a share of their fifth straight Ivy League championship with a 10-1 clobbering of Cornell last Friday, and will await the NCAA tournament after tonight.
The Quakers (5-11, 2-4), meanwhile, can only think “what if?” They enter tonight’s game tied for fifth in the League standings with Columbia and Harvard. Penn has suffered three overtime conference losses (plus a non-conference OT loss at Monmouth).
Win or lose, the season will come to a bittersweet close. The seniors, including tri-captains Katie Rose, Kelsey Tahan and Sarah Warner, are going to play their final career game as the team celebrates Senior Day.
The seniors should “play with everything that they have,” assistant coach Megan McGuin said. “Have fun … have a good game of hockey [and] have no regrets walking off the field.”
The Quakers might be regretting their previous game, however. This past Tuesday, Penn lost to Columbia for just the second time in the last seven years.
Penn’s defense played a good first half against Columbia. Sophomore goalkeeper Kieran Sweeney made three saves on the Lions’ five shots, allowing just one goal. But on offense Penn got just one shot off.
Yet in the Red and the Blue’s previous game, a 4-0 beatdown of Brown one week ago, the Quakers clicked on all cylinders. So Penn must maintain their stellar defense from the first half against Columbia while rediscovering their offensive stride they had at Brown to have any hope of beating Princeton.
Even then, they’ll need some help. Princeton’s Katie Reinprecht and Michelle Cesan both claimed Ivy honors this week. Reinprecht earned co-Player of the Week, while Cesan nabbed co-Rookie of the Week.
“We’re really fortunate that our scoring is so spread out amongst several people,” Princeton coach Kristen Holmes-Winn said. “We just try to play good hockey, keep the ball moving, and whoever ends up in front of the goal for the last pass is the player who scores.”
In order to counter Princeton’s outstanding offense — which has outscored its opponents by a margin of 70 to 20 — the Quakers will need to establish their own offensive play.
“We’re just going to do our best to keep the score down and hopefully get a goal or two ourselves,” Cloud said.
According to McGuin, the Quakers had highs and lows during the season, but Cloud looks back on the season in a positive light.
“We had four overtime games which were obviously winnable, but nothing seemed to go our way this year,” she said. “But I will say my team never gave up, they tried in every game.”
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