Sunday at Franklin Field, the Penn field hockey team will battle its Ivy League rivals from Brown. Twenty-four hours later, Kate Gray will undergo her final chemotherapy treatment.
Kate Gray — Kate Murphy as an undergrad — played field hockey for the Quakers from 2001-04. With Gray as captain during the ’04 season, the Quakers captured the Ivy League championship, the last time a Penn field hockey team accomplished such a feat.
In February, Gray, now a pediatric nurse, was diagnosed with chondroblastic osteogenic sarcoma. A form of bone cancer, the disease resulted in the removal of a malignant tumor and required a nine-month stint of chemotherapy.
This homecoming weekend, the Quakers will pay tribute to their former captain. Against Brown, the team will be sporting gold in order to raise awareness of Gray’s disease. Fans attending the game are encouraged to do the same.
Gray will be unable to attend the game on Sunday. In addition to the added gold on their uniforms, Penn players will also do community service at the Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia in the offseason.
Fans attending the game on Sunday will have the opportunity to donate to CHOP as well. All proceeds will be given to the hospital to benefit its sarcoma research.
Penn enters Sunday’s game with an 8-7 record overall. Sitting at 2-3 in the Ancient Eight, the matchup against the Bears will prove to be a stern test.
While Brown sports a record below .500, the Bears enter the game on a three-game winning streak.
In a road matchup against Holy Cross on Wednesday, the Bears shut out the Crusaders, 4-0.
For the Quakers, Sunday’s match will be the final home game of the season. Coming off a double-overtime loss to Columbia in their previous home game on Oct. 12, the Red and Blue will look to finish their home slate on a high note.
Wednesday night, Penn played at Villanova and won a close game, 3-2. The victory was Penn’s first win at Villanova since 1994.
Historically, the Quakers have dominated the matchup against Brown. In 35 annual meetings since 1977, the Quakers are 24-8-3 against the Bears.
Penn enters this weekend’s game having won five of its last six matchups against Brown, including a 3-2 victory in Providence, R.I., last October.
The Quakers are led by junior forward Sunny Stirewalt. With eight goals to her credit thus far this season, including one against Villanova on Wednesday, Stirewalt leads the team in scoring.
For Brown, defense will be the most important aspect of Sunday’s game. The Bears will also rely heavily on Meghan O’Donnell, their leading goal-scorer this season.
After Sunday’s game, the Quakers will have six days off before visiting Ivy League rival Princeton on Saturday, Nov. 3. The matchup will conclude the Quakers’ regular season.
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