The Penn field hockey team entered Wednesday’s game against Rider with high expectations, hoping their offense could seal the deal.
Indeed, it was the Quakers’ attack — or lack thereof — that decided the game, a 3-0 Broncs (4-1) victory.
Rider’s stifling defense kept the Red and Blue (3-2) out of goalkeeper Alicia Carthan’s cage altogether, putting an end to a streak of four games with two scores or more for the Quakers.
“We played really well in the midfield, we possessed the ball very well … but we could not possess the ball once we got inside the attacking 25,” coach Colleen Fink said. “Our forwards were having a hard time managing the receptions, there [were] a lot of deflections, there [were] a lot of opportunities where we just gave the ball back to [Rider].”
Two unassisted goals by the Broncs’ Sandra Penas in the third and 13th minutes put the Quakers in an early hole they were unable to overcome. On both goals, Penas scored from distance, seemingly unaffected by the Quakers’ attempts to block her.
“We knew exactly that [Penas] likes to use the backhand shot and self-start quickly on the attacking 16s, and we just weren’t ready for it for some unknown reasons,” Fink said. “It’s frustrating because we were prepared in terms of practicing and film, but they just weren’t able to implement the tactics early on in the game.”
Down 2-0, Fink’s players adjusted their defensive strategy successfully and the game quickly turned into a defensive struggle on both sides of the field.
But overall, the Red and Blue were simply outplayed offensively — they had just five shots and two penalty corners, compared to Rider’s 13 and 10, respectively.
“Obviously Rider does have a strong defense, but I think we made them look stronger than they actually were by just giving them the ball inside the attacking 25,” Fink said.
Penn’s best opportunity to score came five minutes after Gabby Burgo scored Rider’s third goal in the 61st minute. Junior captain Julie Tahan lined up for a penalty shot, but Carthan’s save secured the Broncs’ third shutout in the last four games.
While Rider will return home confident after winning its fourth match in a row, the Quakers are now facing doubts after losing twice following a 3-0 start to the season. But Fink said it shouldn’t be that way.
“The offense can’t play tight when we get down early. I think that they have to stay loose, they have to know that they have come back in the past and that they are capable of doing it again,” Fink said. “Defensively we can’t wait. … We know what the other team’s going to do, we’ve scouted them, we’ve watched film and you have to trust the coaching staff in that we’ve made the decisions that are appropriate for the game plan.”