It’s the end of the beginning.
At least that’s what first-year field hockey coach Colleen Quinn Fink told her team as its 3-10 season (1-6 Ivy) came to a close.
“I just think there’s a dramatic need to just stay positive and for the players and the staff to continue to believe in what we’re doing and to stay on board,” she said.
Coming off a losing season in which the Quakers finished tied with Harvard for last in the Ivy League, Fink’s philosophy may not have resonated with her entire squad.
Animosity between some players and the first-year coach flared when she dismissed sophomore goalkeeper, Kat Muller, just two days before the Quakers’ final match against Princeton.
Muller said she had planned to step down from the team at the end of the season because of the extensive time commitment. According to the sophomore, Fink told her she was being disrespectful to the team. Muller also indicated that other teammates thought that Fink acted unfairly.
“I made the difficult decision and my staff made the difficult decision that I felt was best for the team and for the program moving forward,” Fink said.
“The timing of this incident, however unfortunate, it didn’t really impact how we dealt with the situation.”
Next season, the program will be moving on without senior co-captains Laurel McGarvie and Annie Matthews, who combined for six of the team’s 19 goals this year.
After playing on the attacking end of the field throughout her collegiate career, McGarvie was moved into a more defensive position at the start of the year. Despite the move, the senior’s eight points tied her with Matthews for the most on the team.
“We tried to play to our strengths. And I think early on in the season we identified Laurel — especially what her skill set was,” Fink said. “And I was always taught to take care of defense first.”
Despite Fink’s efforts, the Quakers allowed an average of 4.31 goals per game and averaged just 1.11 goals per game on the other side of the ball — both of which placed Penn at the bottom of the conference.
“Looking at the historical statistics of the program over the last couple years, we knew that was going to be an area that we needed to address,” Fink said. “So I think moving forward, we’re just going to need to continue to build on their confidence.”
After a ten-game losing streak in which the Quakers were outscored 38-6, the 2010 season found its silver lining — Penn notched two overtime victories over St. Joseph’s and Ivy rival Columbia, a goal that was set at the start of the season.
“That was definitely a positive for this season. And that goal was expressed directly by the team itself,” Fink said. “I never felt as though we went into any game feeling disheartened or quitting before the opening whistle.”
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