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When the Penn field hockey team last faced Rutgers, Meghan Rose took matters into her own hands. On a breakaway 20 seconds into overtime, her roller found the back of the net to give the Quakers their third-straight win over the Scarlet Knights.

But that was two years ago, and in May, Rose - and most of the Quakers' firepower - graduated. Now, the Red and Blue will be relying on Rose's younger sister, Katie, and a half-dozen new starters to break the deadlock of their 6-6-1 all-time record against Rutgers.

Before they get their shot with Rutgers (2-0) at 5 p.m. tomorrow on Drexel's Buckley Field, the Quakers open their season by hosting St. Francis (0-1) at 7:15 p.m. tonight.

Penn has never faced the Red Flash.

"They're pretty new in Division I," Penn coach Val Cloud said. "So they needed a game, and I was happy to have a game on Franklin Field since we don't have too many."

Her squad doesn't have too many experienced starters, either. Eight seniors graduated, including last year's scoring leader Nicole Black. Cloud expects Black's production to be replaced by the younger Rose, now a junior, who has been moved from center-midfield to center-forward.

Juniors Sarah Warner, Katie Moran, Stephanie Ragg (who also writes for The Daily Pennsylvanian) and Kelsey Tahan will also see increased playing time this weekend as new starters.

Last season, the quartet started a combined one game and did not score a goal.

Sophomores Anne Matthews and Laurel McGarvie will round out the regular rotation, as Cloud does not expect any freshmen to contribute immediately.

"It's really hard to start coming from high school to Division I unless you're outstanding," Cloud said.

"Our team is pretty well established since a lot of my starters are juniors that haven't started before. They've been waiting their turn."

Given the retooled lineup, recent practices have focussed on team dynamics and communication. The Quakers got a head start developing team chemistry on their spring trip to Argentina.

"It was a learning experience, because a lot of those kids hadn't played together competitively before," Cloud said.

Yet this weekend will still be their first regular-season action together. Nonetheless, Cloud feels that hustle - not skill or chemistry - will determine the outcomes.

"If we give it our best effort we will win," Cloud boldly predicted.

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