Some people just live to help others.
Last year for Penn field hockey, that statement applied to nobody better than Elizabeth Hitti, whose 18 assists in her senior year saw her break both the career and single-season school records in the category.
The feat also led to her leading the nation with 1.12 assists per game.
But all good things must come to an end. Now, with Hitti having played her last game for the Red and Blue, the team she left behind must look to different avenues to feed the goal machine of junior Alexa Hoover and co.
“Everyday that’s a journey, and we’re trying to sort through that,” Quakers’ coach Colleen Fink said. “Time is the biggest thing to address that. It takes time to forge bonds with other players and find that right mix, right balance.”
There is a consensus within the team that Hitti was a player that only comes along once in a blue moon.
“She was an excellent player,” Fink noted. “Her and Hoover definitely had a really good bond on the field.”
“There’s no replacing a Hitti because nobody plays like her,” Hoover added.
The Quakers, however, have faith that their flow of play will not be disrupted with the departure. Off-season practices last spring already gave Penn a much-needed opportunity to form new connections on the field, something that has continued in the early days of this newest campaign.
“Sofia [Palacios], Rachel [Huang] and Gina [Guccione] are already doing a great job stepping up and using their skill set and their types of play style,” Hoover said, while Fink reinforced faith in her star player’s ability to forge that bond anew with her teammates still on the field.
Striking a new balance has been stressed as the way to approach the upcoming season as the Red and Blue hope to find goals and assists from a more diverse set of players. Fink pegged senior Elise Tilton as someone who could step up to fill the void left by last spring’s departures and play a critical offensive role in her plans for 2016.
Tilton recorded 15 points last season and tallied five assists to tie for third on the team. Another player who has impressed so far is Palacios, who is set to have an impact on the left side in her sophomore year.
With this array of midfield and attacking options, the Red and Blue do not anticipate any deviation from their traditional attacking mentality, so long as they step up to the challenge.
For Hoover, it’s the intense work rate of the forwards that will keep the team afloat, citing the three-second mentality for players to win the ball back after any turnover.
Although a campaign that broke school’s individual records for single season assists, points and goals will always be a tough act to follow, Fink does not expect this year to be a quiet one for her team.
“I think we’re still going to be able to have an exciting offense.”
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