Fresh off a second-place finish in the Ivy League a season ago, Penn field hockey is hoping to build on that success with another winning season in 2014.
Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, replicating last season’s success won’t be easy given the squad’s current roster.
Despite dropping a de-facto Ivy title game to then-defending national champions Princeton in November, the Quakers had many reasons to be optimistic entering 2014.
Penn put together its most successful season in recent memory last year, notching wins in 13 of its 17 matchups. Then-freshman attack Jasmine Cole led the Red and Blue throughout the season, scoring 18 goals to go along with three assists on her way to capturing Ivy League Rookie of the Year honors.
And with Cole and rising-seniors Emily Corcoran — the Quakers second-leading scorer and assists leader in 2013 — and goalkeeper Carly Sokach seemingly set to return, along with six incoming freshmen, Penn had high hopes for the upcoming season.
But two weeks away from their season opener, as the Red and Blue welcome six freshmen to the roster, the Quakers will be forced to deal with the loss of significant depth from last year’s team.
While seniors Amelia Cohen, Katie Harrington, Sunny Stirewalt and Julie Tahan graduated in May, the program has also seen at least five players leave the team since the end of last season.
In the weeks following Penn’s loss to Princeton, Sokach, Allison Weisenfels, Camille Parry and Neela Mahanty all left the program. Several months later, Cole informed coach Colleen Fink of the her intention to transfer and has since enrolled at Rutgers.
The Quakers will be hard pressed to replace an offensive force like Cole. The Montclair, N.J., native led the Ancient Eight in goals and finished the season tied for the Ivy lead in points.
On the defensive end, Sokach’s prowess in goal will be deeply missed. The then-junior finished second in the Ivies with 121 saves and a .776 save percentage and was one of only three goalkeepers in the conference to allow fewer than two goals against per contest.
The Quakers are hoping that the return of Corcoran, senior midfielder Alex Iqbal and sophomore attack Elise Tilton can offset some of the departures. In addition to the six freshmen, the Red and Blue also hope to benefit from the arrival of Claire Kneizys and Nicole Mackin, a duo that transferred to Penn from Columbia and Robert Morris, respectively.
Before kicking off Ivy play against Cornell on Sept. 20, the Quakers host four home nonconference games at Ellen Vagelos Field. Penn begins its season against Lehigh on Sept. 5.