Three wins in a row hasn’t been a streak for Penn field hockey to take advantage of very often in the past.
But thanks to a 3-2 win over La Salle at Ellen Vagelos Field on Wednesday, that’s the streak the Quakers are enjoying now.
Junior Emily Corcoran led the way for Penn (5-1, 1-0 Ivy), posting not only eight shots on goal versus La Salle (2-7) but also Penn’s first two goals of the contest, the first tying the game at 1-1 apiece with 2:10 remaining in the first half.
Corcoran struck again 10 minutes into the second half, forcing the issue off a penalty corner and slipping a shot behind La Salle goalkeeper Lisa Shaffer after the ball bounced back to her.
Corcoran now boasts seven goals and 17 points in just six games played so far this season, both good for second individually in the Ivy League. Her offensive potency in 2013 marks a stark statistical turnaround from last season, when she notched just two goals in 17 games.
“Emily Corcoran in my opinion has always been a critical part of this offense despite the fact that she didn’t produce the best offensive statistics last year,” said coach Colleen Fink, who looked for more of a defensive presence from Corcoran last year.
“This year she’s filling the same role,” Fink said. “She’s able to counterattack and put herself in scoring position and she is definitely playing with a ton more confidence.”
The only player with more goals and points in the Ivy League than Corcoran is her teammate, freshman Jasmine Cole, who was awarded Ivy League Player of the Week honors before the La Salle game started Wednesday. After becoming the first freshman to claim such honors since November 2008, Cole promptly continued her offensive onslaught, netting what proved to be the game-winning goal just 1:15 after Corcoran’s second strike.
Did Fink expect Cole to play such a crucial role in the Quakers’ offense this early in her collegiate career?
“Honestly, no,” Fink said. “It’s really hard to have a good understanding of what your freshmen are going to bring to the table. We try not to build up those expectations. [But] when we recruited her, we were obviously happy for the Penn field hockey program.”
Still, Penn’s robust start to the 2013 season hasn’t come easily.
The Quakers had to score at the last second, to beat Lehigh, 5-4, after holding a two-goal lead earlier in the game. They also had to preserve a 3-2 halftime lead while getting outshot by Cornell 14-2 in the second half of their inaugural game at Vagelos Field.
And Wednesday, Penn had to hang on again, surrendering a goal off of a penalty corner with 1:19 left which made its lead just 3-2.
But the bleeding stopped there, another positive sign for a team that struggled chronically with giving up back-to-back goals a season ago.
“I think last year when things unfortunately didn’t maybe go well, [the team’s] confidence level dipped,” Fink said. “They hesitated, they didn’t trust one another. This year, at times when maybe things do go wrong or we get scored against, our team is a little bit more comfortable and confident.”
With Penn’s three-game homestand over, the Quakers will visit Harvard Saturday at noon.
“You can’t just put tons of time and energy into something and then not get the payoff,” Fink said. “And I think [we’re] starting to see that payoff.”
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