You only get one chance at a first impression.
The Penn field hockey program finally got its even playing field for gameplay Saturday, with the inaugural game at Vagelos Field opening up the Ivy League slate against Cornell.
And the Quakers (4-1, 1-0 Ivy) couldn’t have come out of the afternoon looking much better, notching a thrilling 4-3 victory over the Big Red (2-3, 0-1).
The field itself was a work of art. Pristine turf, a video board and stands filled to maximum capacity created a field hockey atmosphere that never would have been possible at Franklin Field.
“The field itself was a win,” coach Colleen Fink said. “But I’m really superstitious, and we had to christen it with something positive.”
With a cozy feeling in the stands due to the smaller confinements and an unmistakable sense of hope radiating from players and fans alike, it was a game that Penn couldn’t lose, despite being the underdog to Cornell.
Just 33 seconds into the game, Penn struck first. With a combination of speed and great passes, senior Julie Tahan found junior Emily Corcoran in front of the net, finishing off a goal that stunned the Big Red and sent the crowd into a frenzy.
After being downed by Cornell, 4-0, in last year’s meeting, the immediate strike was just what Penn needed.
But just as a good team does, Cornell answered the call less than five minutes later, foreshadowing the back and forth battle that the Quakers didn’t slam the door shut on until the game was in the final five seconds.
Freshman Jasmine Cole stole the show for the Red and Blue, tallying a hat trick. Each goal proved to be more crucial than the previous one, with her third and final finish rocketing towards the top left corner of the net.
“People just look for [Cole] immediately,” Fink said. “She’s only a freshman, but she knows what it takes to score.”
The Quakers easily carried momentum from Saturday into Sunday’s game with Pacific. The Red and Blue posted a 7-0 rout of the Tigers (2-6), marking their biggest win of the millennium.
Corcoran followed up her four-point performance on Saturday by picking up four more Sunday on a pair of first-half goals.
With a 5-0 lead at halftime the game was all but over. But just for safekeeping, Penn’s two biggest threats, Tahan and Cole, each tacked on a penalty stroke to complete the 7-0 blowout.
The two have been deadly working together on the attack, with Tahan tallying two goals and three assists and Cole leading the team with eight goals.
And though Cole has burst onto the scene, she is grateful for her senior leader.
“Julie is such a great influence on me,” Cole said. “She’s always there and she’s always strong, and we have a great time working together.”
At 4-1 and undefeated in the Ivy League, the Quakers are in an unfamiliar spot at the top of the conference standings.
But just because it’s unknown territory doesn’t mean they plan on leaving.
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