For Penn field hockey, a result like Tuesday night’s beatdown of Drexel was anything but imperative. However, despite entering the game having won 10 of their past 11 games, the Quakers came through in a 5-1 rout of the Dragons.
With that win, Penn’s (11-2, 3-1 Ivy) non-conference schedule — for the regular season, at least — has run its course. The Red and Blue will now face off against three straight conference opponents in their bid for the Ivy League championship.
The Quakers struggled out of the gate and conceded an early goal to Drexel’s Amy Ferguson and continued to stumble through the half, but ultimately made it to halftime with just a 1-0 deficit. That is when coach Colleen Fink rallied her troops, in turn bringing about an impressive offensive showing in the second frame.
“I honestly didn’t raise my voice at all. I remained very calm and composed,” Fink said, later admitting what she had to say about the score of the game at halftime.
After just five minutes of play in the second half, Penn stole the lead thanks to goals from sophomore attacker Alexa Hoover and freshman midfielder Selina Garzio. The onslaught continued through to the finish, where the duo picked up another three goals — two more from Hoover and an additional score from Garzio.
“I think our forwards did a really nice job of moving in space and kind of distracting the [Drexel defense] a little bit more," Fink said. "We’ve been playing a little stagnant on the front line in terms of positioning so it was nice to see them be able to create some more movement and keep [the opposition] more unsettled in their end.”
Penn’s offense was once again on display against Drexel (6-9), but it was the defense and goalkeeping that ultimately prevented the Quakers from allowing more goals in the first half. Fink will be the first to admit that the defense’s turnaround earlier in the season has been one of the team’s keys to success lately.
“It’s kind of like the [Philadelphia] Eagles. The defense has been what’s holding on, but without the offense, eventually that is going to catch up with you,” Fink said. “The message there is that one can’t be successful without the other.”
When asked if Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly could learn anything from Penn field hockey, Fink had a lighter response. “Why not throw that out to the universe and see if Chip takes a bite?”
The Quakers now enter the weekend having won their last two and will face off against a struggling Yale squad on Saturday. The Bulldogs (2-10, 0-4) have plummeted since starting the season at 2-2. In its ongoing skid — currently at eight games — the team has been outscored 29-4, with two of those goals coming against Dartmouth in their matchup last Saturday.
Of course, Fink recognizes the possibility of a trap game. The team’s short turnaround before Saturday’s contest and Yale’s record are enough for most to hold off from guaranteeing a win. Fink believes that the opposite is true, specifically that there is so much on the line that it cannot possibly be a trap game.
“It’s definitely a must-win. The girls know that. We’re not going to make it bigger than what it is," she said. "We’re not going to talk about that much. Everyone knows what’s on the line, and we just have to go out and play the best we can.”
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