Once again, Penn field hockey won in a one-goal game that fails to represent the team’s dominance during the course of play. This time, the Quakers took down cross-city rival Drexel, 2-1, in a contest where the score fails to paint an accurate picture.
The Dragons (5-5) never gained a firm grip on the game and faced a barrage shots for the entire 70 minutes. The Red and Blue (6-2), however, needed just over 30 minutes to start the day’s scoring.
Sophomore Paige Meilly hit the ball in but Drexel’s Erin Gilchrist came up with the save. Junior Gina Guccione drove in to score off the rebound but hit the post before knocking away her second opportunity. That goal was Guccione’s third of the season and first of two in that game.
“The goalie kicked it out to the middle of the circle. I tipped it, it hit the post, went across the goal and I got it backhand for a little tap-in,” Guccione said.
The Quakers continued to take over in the second half with plenty of chances, including a beautiful feed from junior Alexa Hoover to Guccione for the junior’s second goal of the game. The two have an incredible relationship on the field when attacking and have assisted each other’s goals numerous times over the years.
That helper was Hoover’s team-leading 11th point of the season. Currently, she is tied with Lisa Romig for Penn’s goal-scoring record with 44 goals, but has been unable to net that elusive record-breaker.
Heading into the season, Hoover was adamant about taking on a greater playmaking role. She has been very successful in that department to date, but is suffering a four-game scoreless drought and is seemingly snakebitten.
“Anyone who watches our games knows she’s one of the number one playmakers on the field,” coach Colleen Fink said. “It’s frustrating for her, for sure, that she’s not getting the goals she wants but she has to know that she has 100 percent support of her teammates and coaches. I keep telling her it’s going to come at the right time when we need it most and when it does, floodgates are going to open.”
“I think she’ll be able to score next game. She just has to stay positive and I know she can do it,” Guccione said. “I’m especially excited for her because we [are best friends] so I’m really excited for my friend to do that.”
Much like in prior years, the current offense features significant contributions from the midfield attacking up-field. They don’t always make their presence felt on the score-sheet, but they are setting up plays and clicking with the offense. Guccione is thankful for the midfield’s increased playmaking lately.
“The midfield has definitely been able to get more involved,” Guccione said. “It’s nice to have that extra layer and transfer the ball in the midfield and look up-field.”
In addition to playing a role on offense, the midfield has also improved drastically in transition. Previously, the team was slow to recover on defense, which led to prime scoring opportunities for aggressively attacking opponents like UNC. On Tuesday, they were quick to get back and, along with a solid showing from the defense, kept the Dragons in check all game long.
Down by two with less than 25 minutes to play, the Dragons started to put their foot on the gas. They attacked aggressively and began to come up with some chances of their own, one of them resulting in a goal. It was one blemish in an otherwise impressive defensive showing for the Red and Blue.
As the clock kept winding down, the Dragons became desperate. They took a timeout with seven minutes left to try and steal the game’s momentum, but their efforts were in vain: Penn owned the field of play for the waning minutes and did not allow a shot on goal following the stoppage.
“At that time we were still in control so I just reminded them of that,” Fink said of her speech during the timeout. “The style of play that Drexel likes to play is picking up those loose balls so the message was to try and stay as tight as you can.”
The Quakers’ win improved their record to 3-1 at Ellen Vagelos Field, their only home loss coming at the hands of then top-ranked UNC. Tuesday’s win leaves Penn at 2-0 against City Six opponents, with games against Temple and Villanova still to come.
The Red and Blue now prepare for their second Ivy contest, this one against Harvard. The game will be played at Vagelos Field on Sunday at 12 p.m.
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