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Now a senior captain for Penn field hockey, attacker Elizabeth Hitti — who finished in the top 10 in the Ivy League in both goals and assists last year — remains one of the Quakers' respected veteran leaders.

Credit: Thomas Munson

Following her own successful freshman season, reigning Ivy League Rookie of Year Alexa Hoover may now be the star of Penn field hockey. But this year’s crop of freshmen will look beyond the sophomore phenom for guidance in their first season of collegiate athletics.

The Quakers’ roster in 2015 features a core of veteran talent that’s already been around the mean Ivy League block three times — experience and knowledge that is sure to come in handy for a conference slate absent of easy games.

After the departure of All-Ivy seniors Emily Corcoran, Alex Iqbal and MaryRose Croddick following the 2014 season, the Quakers are counting on this season’s crop of returning leaders to take charge. According to the official Penn Athletics roster, there are a grand total of six seniors on the squad, including attacker Elizabeth Hitti, who finished top 10 in the Ivy League both in goals and assists last season.

“One of the key aspects of our team is our leadership, since the more experienced players can provide the underclassmen with advice, especially at the beginning of the season,” Hitti said.

“The presence of the juniors and seniors will make it easier for the freshmen to learn the college game, which will hopefully translate into increased confidence in their own abilities once they get on the field.”

For many freshmen, it is often comforting to know that the veteran players were in their shoes just two or three years ago.

“[When I was a freshman] the more experienced players on the team were really outgoing and helped us out if we ever had any questions,” sophomore midfielder and attacker Rachel Huang said. “They had a really great relationship with the coaches too, which made the experience even better because I think it made us feel like a family pretty early on in the season.”

Additionally, experienced players can provide guidance to the freshmen, which is especially valuable as the younger players enter their first games at the college level.

“I think it’s really important that freshmen feel comfortable asking us questions, because the more they understand what is happening on the field, the better it is for our team,” Hitti said.

The combination of young talent with experienced leadership has Penn poised for a successful season in 2015.

While the Quakers finished 8-9 last season, they put together an impressive four-game winning streak late in the season and lost by only one goal to Princeton — the defending Ivy League champions — in the last game of the year.

While Penn’s three All-Ivy players certainly had a lot to do with those successes, coach Colleen Fink feels that this year’s squad has the potential to replicate — or even eclipse — the accomplishments of last year’s team.

“Our team has players that are on the cusp [of All-Ivy] status every year, and these players will rise to the occasion,” Fink said. “Also, with Alexa Hoover coming in with one year of experience already under her belt, I think we definitely have potential to go further this season.”

In 2015, the Quakers can look to its veteran players to make up the backbone of its presence on the field. Add in young talent, such as Hoover, and you’ve got yourself a solid team.

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