Success must come from experience, right?
Yes, no and maybe. Take senior Sarah Hasson and freshman Elizabeth Hitti of the Penn field hockey team, which heads to Easton, Pa., on Wednesday to take on No. 13 Lafayette (8-1).
Hasson and Hitti form the core of an offense for Penn (5-4) that has, despite a recent setback at Dartmouth, been productive this season, scoring four or more goals in each of the team’s five victories. The duo has already gained acclaim as Ivy League Player and Rookie of the Week, respectively, last week. Both bring unique and vital contributions to the front line.
“Elizabeth is … somewhat of an untraditional player. She’s difficult to defend because of her style of play,” coach Colleen Fink said. “She gets a lot of opportunities offensively. She can set people up, she can take the shots herself … and she’s just super competitive.”
Fink was referring to Hitti’s offensive approach, rooted in her background playing ice hockey. It’s helped her amass five goals and four assists on the season.
“Sass,” as Hasson is known, plays the role of leader and motivator.
“The seniors … get the team focused,” Hasson said. “We want to make sure we’re playing our best, holding ourselves accountable and getting the team pumped up and ready to play.”
Fortunately for the Quakers, the senior excels at leading by example, accounting for four goals and four assists so far this season.
“Sass came off of a good spring and a summer where she worked really hard to improve her speed, improve her scoring capability, and it’s obviously reflected in her play so far this season,” Fink said.
But it would be a mistake to view the Red and Blue attack as two-dimensional. The entire forward line is deep and experienced.
“They’ve been playing with each other now for two years, so they have a little bit more chemistry,” Fink said. “Adding Hitti to that mix, I think they all like playing with her. She can set them up, she’s a workhorse.”
Getting everyone involved has been crucial to the success of the offense this year. Fink emphasized that no two players work with only each other, and Hasson praised the forwards for unselfish play.
“A lot of us make some cuts even if we know we’re not going to get the ball. It’s opening holes for other passes,” she said. “As a whole, we work really well together.”
Good teamwork could be crucial Wednesday, as the 13th-ranked Leopards have allowed just 1.12 goals per game.
“We’re focusing on really using our speed offensively, really trying to encourage the offense to communicate to one another when the goalkeeper is coming out and pressuring.” Fink said. “That was the biggest challenge against Dartmouth … a lot of our scoring opportunities were broken up because of that.”
To pull of the upset, the Quakers will need to play a vcomplete game. Their experience, and chemistry, will surely be put to the test.
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