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Penn field hockey’s defense, led by senior MaryRose Croddick, has been solid so far in 2014, surrendering only two goals over the course of two matches.

Photo: Joshua Ng

After a solid opening weekend at Vagelos Field, Penn field hockey will look to use two more nonconference games to shape into form ahead of Ivy play.

The Quakers (1-1) will host Fairfield on Friday and Liberty on Sunday, two teams that figure to give the Red and Blue a test on their AstroTurf.

When the Stags (2-2) trot down to University City on Friday, Penn will be on the lookout for sophomore Ann Burgoyne. The shifty attack has been Fairfield’s biggest offensive threat thus far with six points in four games.

The Quakers, who have put a premium on their toughness this season, will see to it that Burgoyne works for everything she gets on the Red and Blue’s half of the field.

“Our slogan is ‘true grit,’” coach Colleen Fink said. “We’ve been defining true grit as a lot of different things. One of the primary things is the notion of resilience. I think that really transcends into the defense.”

It would seem that the Quakers have taken the mantra to heart — the squad gave up just two goals in its pair of games to open the season against Lehigh and Bucknell last weekend.

Senior goalie Allison Weisenfels made a strong debut behind a defense that worked effectively to prevent opponents’ offensive opportunities.

“We’ve been really working on eliminating scoring opportunities altogether, trying to do that in creative ways,” Fink said.

Holding together the back end for Penn is senior MaryRose Croddick .

“[She has] been a centerpiece to our defense,” Fink said of the veteran.

A welcome addition to Penn’s defense has been sophomore Columbia transfer Claire Kneizys, whose relationship with Fink goes back years.

“I coached [Claire] when she was in middle school and high school at the club level, so I’m pretty familiar with her game,” Fink said.

Made up of faces new and old, Penn’s defense will look to be the latest unit to give Liberty’s attack trouble.

Liberty (1-3) is averaging only about one goal per game, but that is in large part because of the stiff competition it has faced. The Flames fell to No. 12 Stanford in late August and were edged 2-1 by No. 9 Old Dominion last weekend.

The visiting squad is hoping that freshman Alynn Richardson — who was named NorPac Rookie of the Week after registering her first collegiate goal against Old Dominion — will continue to give the offense a boost.

The Quakers have found their own rookie threat in Alexa Hoover, who was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week after posting a hat trick in her first game against Lehigh.

This weekend, the Quakers hope to replicate their high-octane performance against Lehigh and move on from their empty effort against Bucknell.

“I think we need to make our opponents a little more uncomfortable when we are in the attacking part of the field,” Fink said.

“We’re just gonna have to play our game. I think our games complement each other, so I think it’ll be a good weekend.”

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