Penn field hockey threw recent tradition out the window on Wednesday as it battled to a 3-2 victory over Villanova.
The Quakers (8-7, 2-3 Ivy) snapped a six-game losing streak to the Wildcats (6-12) and an eight-game losing streak at Villanova. Before Wednesday, the Red and Blue’s last victory at Villanova came in 1994. But the Quakers weren’t worried about history.
“We didn’t know that statistic at all going into the game,” coach Colleen Fink said. “I think it’s great. It speaks volumes about the direction the program is going in … To be able to get a win on the road against Villanova is really rewarding.”
Leah High gave the Wildcats the early advantage, scoring in the 19th minute. Penn responded quickly though, as junior Amelia Cohen equalized less than two minutes later. Both teams went into the halftime break with the score tied at one.
The second half was a different story, as the Quakers started off strong with a spark of offense. Penn went ahead, 2-1, after freshman attack Elizabeth Hitti tucked away her sixth goal of the season.
Fink was quick to give her players credit for the team’s second-half energy.
“The girls at halftime came off the field and were very motivated to correct the little things that they needed to address,” she said. “They made one adjustment very well on the press and they also were able to just tighten things up and play our style of hockey.”
Junior Sunny Stirewalt, who also assisted Cohen’s opening goal, gave Penn a 3-1 lead off a corner midway through the second half. It was her team-leading eighth goal of the season, and the Quakers never looked back.
For the Penn defense, it then became a case of ‘bend, but don’t break.’ The Wildcats outshot the Quakers, 21-9, throughout the game, but the Red and Blue defense held on for the victory. Sophomore goalkeeper Carly Sokach stepped up when her team needed her, recording five saves on the night.
“Our defense played really well. Carly made some critical saves at critical times,” Fink said. “I think we had a lot of scoring opportunities regardless of what the box score says.”
Fink added that her team “dominated in terms of possession and offensive pressure,” and commended Sokach and the defense as well.
Wednesday marked the third consecutive away game for the Quakers after playing two games in Connecticut last weekend. Fink believes the road games have been the perfect learning opportunity for the team going in to the final two games of the season, both Ivy matchups.
“Every game they are learning and taking steps closer to winning overall,” Fink said. “This season has been a journey.”
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