It was halftime of a scoreless battle, and an upbeat Colleen Fink had only one message for the Penn field hockey team: score first.
As the second half began, the Quakers generated chance after chance. One shot went just wide. Another was denied on a great save by a first-team All-Ivy goalkeeper. But Franklin Field could feel that a goal was coming.
Finally, on Penn’s fourth penalty corner in five minutes, freshman Emily Corcoran put a rebound in the back of the cage to give the Red and Blue a lead they would not relinquish as they defeated Cornell — last season’s Ivy runner-up — 1-0.
“I really wanted to come out and score today,” said the forward, who could not stop smiling after the game. “That’s my position — that’s my job.”
Fink reflected on the significance of the goal for the team and for Corcoran.
“To have your first goal of the season, the first goal of your career, and for it to be a game-winner in the first Ivy League game, I think that speaks for itself.”
After amassing only one Ivy win all of last season, the Quakers (1-4, 1-0 Ivy) find themselves tied atop the league standings.
“I hope we can just keep on rolling through,” senior goaltender Kieran Sweeney said.
For the keeper and her fellow seniors, it was their final chance to take down the Big Red (2-3, 0-1), who had not lost to Penn since 2007.
The shutout was the fourth for Sweeney in her career and the first for the Quakers in over a year. The goalie modestly gave much of the credit to her defense.
“They were awesome,” she said. “There were many times where I didn’t even have to touch the ball.”
Cornell controlled the ball for most of the first half, taking six shots on goal while the Quakers could not manage one. It was in the second half, though, that Penn found its stride and bombarded the Big Red with seven shots on goal.
After falling behind, the Big Red would not go down without a fight. They generated eight penalty corners in the half, the second-most Penn has allowed in a half all season.
“We gave up far too many,” Fink said. “We definitely kept it interesting.”
With 15 minutes remaining, Cornell looked as if it would finally even the match as the ball trickled past Sweeney and rolled toward the cage. But MaryRose Croddick, one of Penn’s eight freshmen, was there to save the day for the Quakers.
As if Croddick’s game-saving play wasn’t stressful enough, Penn was forced to play one player down for five of the final 10 minutes when Mandy Epstein drew a yellow card.
The Red and Blue’s defense bent but did not break in those 10 minutes, denying the Big Red at every turn.
Fink, who previously stated that any team could win the Ivy League this year, may be on to something. Penn took care of Cornell, last season’s runner-up. Princeton, the seven-time defending Ivy champions, also fell, 2-1, to Dartmouth.
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