Anyone that has followed Penn field hockey these last four seasons has undoubtedly heard of Alexa Hoover, but the senior class, embarking on its last hurrah, extends beyond the star scorer.
The final year is bittersweet for senior Quakers, a fact known by midfielder Gina Guccione, forward Rachel Huang, back Jasmine Li and goalkeeper Liz Mata.
The seniors hope to lead the team to success, as Ivy League play begins Saturday at home against Cornell.
Prior to Ivy competition, the Quakers fell short to Iowa 2-3, after having a 2-1 lead earlier in the game.
“I was really focused on managing our defense and staying organized in terms of our setup…We knew that their forwards were very active and we had to be very diligent in that,” Mata explained.
However, the team is no longer dwelling on that outing, as attention has since turned to conference play.
“Going to Cornell, we still have the very same mindset of keeping our heads down and doing work this week so we can prepare as much as possible, but also knowing that Ivy League is a bit more important,” Mata said.
The team knows that Cornell’s game is an important starting point for long term goals.
“We really want to win an Ivy League championship this year. So when we face Cornell on Saturday, that is the very beginning," Huang said. "So, I think there will be a different atmosphere, a different energy.”
As the team moves forward, coach Colleen Fink had insightful and reflective comments about the senior class.
“Starting with Gina, I think she is really starting to turn it on right now. We have really been challenging the offense to play outside themselves a little more.”
Guccione is a significant piece of the offensive game plan for the Quakers. But, her influence seems to extend beyond the field.
“Off the field, she [Gina] is so integral to this team’s success. She kind of keeps things light…She brings her personality to practice.”
Fink had praiseworthy comments for Li as well.
“Her level of commitment is very high to this team; I think that sets her apart.”
She discussed how Li has challenged her as a coach, because of their contrasts. Li does not allow emotion to impact her play, while Fink’s coaching is rooted in emotion.
“My relationship with Jasmine has made me a better coach.”
As for Huang, “Teams definitely look at her on film and are concerned and have to make adjustments,” Fink said. “Rachel may be one of the kindest kids I have ever interacted with. She has an energy and positivity with her that is unparalleled.”
The Quaker seniors hope to finish their careers with a splash, and Fink seems confident in their abilities as leaders and playmakers to guide Penn to success.
“Being a leader, being an upperclassman, really means being a role model to the underclassmen," Li said. "Showing them what attitude we want to have going to the games, what kind of atmosphere we want, especially with the Ivy games coming up, and just really setting the tone for the whole team."
If Li's remarks are any indication, Fink's kind words about her seniors are well-placed.
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