Despite a forgettable record and the loss of six seniors in 2014, Penn field hockey looks poised to make waves in the upcoming season.
Penn’s record in 2014 (8-9, 3-4 Ivy) was not indicative of the team’s performance this season. Just ask incoming sophomore attack Alexa Hoover.
“I think  went pretty well. We had some tough games where we lost by one goal,” Hoover said. “They were pretty close games almost every game.”
Hoover was one of the team’s bright spots in 2014. Her 14 goals put her in fifth place for goals in a season in Penn field hockey history, just the third time a freshmen Quaker has had such success. For Hoover, most of that pressure is self-imposed.
“For me, I put a lot of pressure on myself but I’ve also made it a goal for myself to stay where I was last season,” Hoover said. “You don’t want to fall off after one season. You want to stay continuously good and keep your skills.”
Her success last season did not go unnoticed. She was named Ivy League rookie of the year and was invited to the Young Women’s National Tournament, both for outdoor and indoor field hockey. Although the pressure can seem palpable as scouts from the U.S. Women’s National Team vigilantly track each player’s performance, Hoover put her head down and focused on playing her game.
“It was a lot. With the Young Women’s National Championship, you know that everyone’s looking at you and there are so many good girls there, it’s a little nerve-wracking at first. But overall you have to play,” Hoover said. “Don’t overthink things. It is stressful, though. You want to get picked. You want to go to the next level.”
Entering the fall, there will certainly be plenty of challenges. Among the greatest hurdles entering the season will be replacing the six outgoing starters from 2014, including goalkeeper Allison Weisenfels, backs Helene Caniglia and Mary Rose Croddick, midfielder Katherine Cook, and attackers Alex Iqbal and Emily Corcoran.
Both in terms of statistical production and leadership ability, this group is tough to replace. Hoover recognizes the challenge that the current captains face in taking over but notes that it is an essential task.
“It is going to be really important for [the captains and senior leaders] to move us in the right direction and the captains are already doing a great job,” Hoover said. “They’re staying in contact and they’re leading spring practices. I think it’s going to be a smooth transition.”
Not only will the 2015 Quakers witness the return of senior midfielder Alex Agathis and sophomore goalkeeper Elizabeth Mata — both players will be returning after having missed the majority of the previous season with injuries — but they will also welcome six incoming freshmen to the roster.
Hoover believes that these six freshmen may just be the key to replacing the outgoing seniors.
“I think they’re very skillful players,” Hoover said. “We have a pretty strong group of girls coming in. I think they’re ready.”
Among that group, Hoover is quick to highlight incoming freshmen Selina Garzio. “She’s such a strong player. She’s so tall so she has a long reach. She’s very deceptive with her play,” Hoover said. “Very strong player. Very well rounded.”
Entering next season, the Quakers face a tough schedule. Per usual, Penn will battle four Philadelphia squads and the other seven Ivy League teams. However, Penn will also be facing off against five top-25 ranked teams in 2015. Fortunately for the Quakers, the upcoming season starts off slowly, allowing the team to develop some rhythm. Still, a strong start is imperative.
“It’s always essential. It’s always necessary to start off strong. When you get a good start, it’s easier to keep momentum than it is to start a little shaky,” Hoover said. “I think it motivates people to start off strong. They get excited and pumped for the next game because they want to keep this going.”
Entering next season, the team will be young and mostly unproven. Winning the Ivy League title will surely be a tall task, but that will not stop the Quakers from shooting for the top.
“In the end, everyone always wants to win the Ivy League championship,” Hoover said. “But I don’t think we should look so far in the future. We need to look at it one game at a time.”
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