Saturday marks the last game of the season for Penn’s field hockey team, which can only mean one thing: The Quakers are going Tiger hunting.
Penn (9-7, 3-3 Ivy) will travel to No. 2 Princeton (15-1, 6-0) to face its old rival in their classic season finale matchup, and the Quakers enter the game following two huge wins.
Last week, the Red and Blue journeyed to Villanova and defeated the Wildcats for the first time in six years. Then, they guaranteed themselves a winning record this season with an overtime victory at home against Brown.
Now, the Quakers look to conquer Bedford Field with a huge upset against the Tigers.
“[Princeton has] always been ranked in the top 10, usually within the top three, so we always get really pumped up to play them,” senior Sarah Hasson said. “We know they have a lot of skill, but we want to make sure we’re putting out that best product we can against a team like that.”
Saturday’s game won’t be easy. The Tigers have one of the nation’s best offenses and have outscored their Ivy League opponents this season, 38-1. Kathleen Sharkey, the program’s all-time leader in goals and the nation’s No. 1 scorer, leads the Princeton offensive attack. Penn will need a good game plan in order to stop the Tigers’ attack.
“We’re just really focusing on our 2-v-1 defense,” senior Kyle deSandes-Moyer said. “So for Princeton, they have a high forward, so just playing good defense and playing calm and composed is what’s going to give us the most success. If we just play our game plan and play a full 70 minutes, I don’t think there’s any reason we can’t play a good game against them.”
Princeton’s defense has also been stellar this season. The Tigers rank third in the nation in goals against average, allowing only one goal per game. They haven’t allowed a single goal against Penn in the last four years and haven’t lost a game to the Quakers in seven years.
But Hasson isn’t worried.
“I think field hockey is a game of mistakes.” Hasson said. “If we can put enough pressure on them to make those mistakes, hopefully we’ll be able to capitalize, and that’ll be great. I think our mentality going into this game is that we need to play a full 70 minutes of Penn field hockey and not get let down, score on the opportunities that we have and just go out with the best mindset we possibly can.”
If the Quakers are going to pull off the upset, their seniors will have to take charge. Mandy Epstein, deSandes-Moyer and Hasson will try to be the first group of seniors since the Class of 2005 to lead their team to victory against their Jersey foes.
“I’m just excited to play against Princeton,” deSandes-Moyer said, “and we have a good rivalry, so it’ll be a good way to end my career.”