One win. That’s all that separates this season’s Penn field hockey team from tying its overall win record from the past two seasons combined.
But the stakes are high as the Quakers (6-6, 1-3 Ivy) head to New Haven, Conn., to face off against the reigning Ivy League co-champion Bulldogs (4-8, 1-3) on Saturday.
For junior midfielder Katie Harrington, the stakes are even higher. She will play against her high school teammate and friend, Yale forward Gabby Garcia.
“Our teams definitely have a competitive rivalry on the field, but it’s nice we can still catch up as friends after the game,” Harrington said.
“It’s a really cool experience to play against old teammates who we grew up learning the game with.”
The girls’ familiarity with other teams’ games helps charge that competitive rivalry on the field.
“Gabby has always been a tenacious player,” Harrington said. “She’s strong on the ball and will fight the whole game.”
Last year, the Quakers had a 1-0 lead over the Bulldogs until Garcia scored a goal at the 45-minute mark to tie up the game and keep Yale’s dreams of the championship alive. The Bulldogs won, 2-1, but it was their only win by fewer than two goals in Ivy play.
This year, Penn is doing exponentially better than in other recent seasons and the team is ready to take on the Ivy champs.
“We continue to dedicate our time to intense training and we’re always pushing ourselves further,” Harrington said of the team’s progress this season.
For Harrington and the other upperclassmen on the team, it “becomes very apparent that our time as student-athletes at Penn is limited, which motivates [us] even more to make the most of [our] experience.”
This drive will give the Quakers the push they need, as they continue Ivy play after a difficult loss to Columbia last week. But this season’s team has proved to be promising.
Penn averages 2.67 goals per game while Yale averages just 1.2. Each team’s lone Ivy victory has come against Harvard.
The Bulldogs have lost to Princeton and Cornell in shutout games and just missed a victory against Dartmouth last week in a 4-3 loss.
Yale junior Erica Borgo and senior Mary Beth Barham have established themselves as offensive powerhouses this season, scoring four and three goals for the Bulldogs, respectively. Penn’s offensive leaders are upping their games as well, with six goals each from senior midfielder Sarah Hasson and junior forwards Sunny Stirewalt and Julie Tahan. They will look to bring that energy up to New Haven this weekend.
“If Yale’s team has developed as much as we have,” Harrington said, “I’m sure both teams will seriously challenge each other.”
The Quakers will head straight from Saturday’s game against Yale to their next contest at Fairfield (8-8) on Sunday afternoon.