As Bo Jackson once said, “Set your goals high, and don’t stop until you get there.”
For Penn field hockey, this weekend’s game marks a crucial moment in achieving the hefty preseason goal of winning the Ivy League title.
The Quakers (12-2, 4-1 Ivy) square off against Brown at noon this Saturday in Providence. A win over the Bears along with a win next Saturday against Princeton would earn the Red and Blue at least a share of the Ivy League title for the first time since 2004.
With the championship still to play for, the team is feeling both pressure and excitement. This is especially true for the seniors who have been working for four years to create this opportunity.
“This is our last chance to do it, so it means a lot to me and the other [senior] girls,” senior attacker and captain Elizabeth Hitti said. “We’re pushing ourselves to have the games of our lives this Saturday and next week.”
Hitti has been an integral part of the Penn offense this season, amassing 16 assists thus far. With 32 assists to her name throughout her four years, her next assist will break two school records: both for assists in one season and in a Penn career.
This game also holds special significance for Penn freshman attacker Karen Seid, whose twin sister Ellie starts for the Bears (6-8, 1-4) .
“Our whole life we have played on the same team,” Seid admitted. “Going to college has been weird for both of us, but it has helped us develop as individuals, both on and off the field. It’ll be strange playing against her but also a lot of fun.”
Against Brown, Penn will look to replicate the successes of the past few games that have earned the Quakers a three-game winning streak.
“We just have to keep doing what we’re doing,” Hitti said. “Our offensive production has been solid all season. If we can keep that up we’ll finish the season well.”
Some defensive lapses, however, have been concerning for the Red and Blue as of late, including two goals on corners in the recent 4-2 win against Yale. However, Penn coach Colleen Fink is not alarmed.
“Corners are always an advantage to an opponent, so the real problem is limiting them in the first place,” she explained. “It’s one of the primary focuses of our defense. You just try to defend them the best you can when you give one up.”
With only two games remaining, it seems late in the season to be making any major adjustments. But Fink knows that there are still small kinks that need to be worked out if the Quakers want to get over the hump and win the title.
“It’s never too late to be working on things,” Fink said. “The players look forward to the games, but the coaches look forward to practice. Practice is where we iron out our wrinkles and get our team playing the best hockey it can play.”
Despite Brown sitting near the bottom of the Ivy League standings, Fink insists that the team does not overlook any opposition.
“I don’t think we’ve looked past any game all season,” Fink said. “We approach every game the same, and that’s to play the best Penn hockey we can.”
“We’re concentrated on Brown. Just Brown,” Hitti echoed. “Before we think about next week, we have business to take care of on Saturday.”
And if the Red and Blue can come away with a victory this weekend, they will be one final step away from making a preseason dream into reality.
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