In Ivy League field hockey, there’s Princeton, and there’s everyone else.
On Saturday morning, the Quakers fell to No. 2 Princeton in New Jersey, 7-0, as the Tigers completed a perfect Ivy record and earned another conference championship.
Princeton (16-1, 7-0 Ivy) has held at least a share of the title for 18 of the last 19 seasons.
Going into its final match, Penn (9-8, 3-4) had already clinched its first winning record since 2006 and most Ivy victories since ‘08.
The season highlights how coach Colleen Fink has turned the program around since taking the helm in 2010. One of Fink’s biggest attributes is her recruiting, which paid off in big ways this season. In just two years, the Quakers have transformed from a 3-14 team to a winning team that has competed toe-to-toe with almost every Ivy league foe.
While Princeton’s field hockey fits in more with ACC or Big 10 schools, the Quakers still showed the resilience typical of their squad this season on Saturday. The Red and Blue came out determined, holding Princeton off the scoreboard for longer than any other Ivy team. Most notably, sophomore goalkeeper Carly Sokach capped off her year with a career-high 15 saves.
Princeton, which has outscored league opponents, 45-1, and held a clean sheet in league play for 432 consecutive minutes, overwhelmed the Quakers as both Allison Evans and Kathleen Sharkey had hat tricks on the day.
The Tigers finish the season with just a sole loss — to No. 3 Syracuse — and unless they are jumped in the rankings, they will likely end the season ranked as the No. 2 team in the nation.
With only three seniors departing, the Quakers will retain the core of its team and will be in a position to improve on what has been the defining season of coach Fink’s tenure.
It’s possible the Red and Blue will say goodbye to Franklin Field by next fall if the planned AstroTurf field, which No. 1 North Carolina coach Karen Shelton described as a “must have” for any competitive team, is completed.
Penn might not become the new Princeton anytime soon, but based on the rapid progress of the program, there’s every reason to believe the Quakers will soon be a force to reckon with.