Penn’s field hockey team is looking to climb back over .500 before reentering Ivy play.
Sunday, the Quakers take on Radford at Franklin Field at 1 p.m.
The Red and Blue (5-5) are coming off a two-game road swing and hoping home-field advantage will help set them straight after dropping two consecutive games. They are currently 3-1 on their home turf.
“One of our goals is to be over .500 at the end of the season. One of my goals is to never dip below that,” coach Colleen Fink said.
Penn will try to continue its improvement on both ends of the field on Sunday.
Defensively, the team wants to step up its pressure on the ball. While the Quakers showed the ability to contest every shot when they faced Dartmouth last weekend — under half of Dartmouth’s shots challenged goalkeeper Carly Sokach — Penn would like to start that pressure further up the pitch.
“[We need to] be more aggressive in the middle 50 and not wait for them to get into the circle to make a tackle,” junior captain Julie Tahan said.
On the offensive half, Penn wants to recapture the offensive prowess it has shown throughout the season — the Quakers have scored four or more goals in half of their games thus far, which accounts for five of their wins.
Overall, Fink “would like the team to play a full 70 minutes.”
“I don’t think we have seen a solid 70-minute performance from both the attack and defense yet,” she added, while noting the team has played well in its wins.
Playing the entire 70 will be crucial against Radford. Tahan said the focus come Sunday will be “scoring early and just starting right from the beginning just to get that momentum.”
While getting on the board first would obviously give Penn an advantage, the Quakers will need to keep on the pressure, as Appalachian State learned this past Sunday.
Despite netting two scores in the first six minutes, Appalachian State fell, 3-2, as Radford rallied in the second half and came out on top in overtime.
Penn’s loss Wednesday night against nationally ranked Lafayette might prove to have a silver lining in providing valuable experience. While Radford’s 1-8 record is not impressive, the Highlanders are battle-tested, having played nationally-ranked opponents in Old Dominion and Stanford.
Overall, Radford’s strength of schedule ranks in the top 50 of all teams — Penn’s is close at 65.
The only overlap between both teams’ schedules is Appalachian State, a squad which both teams took to overtime. The Red and Blue also came out on the losing end to the Mountaineers, 3-2.
Each squad’s results against Appalachian State suggest Sunday’s contest should be evenly matched.
The Quakers will have an advantage in rest, as they will have had three full days off. Radford, in contrast, is traveling from Virginia, and faces Temple on Saturday before meeting the Red and Blue.
That should fare well for Penn, as it tries to keep Fink’s goal alive and avoid slipping under .500 for the first time this season.