And they’re off.
Penn field hockey started its 2015 campaign this weekend by splitting a pair of games during a three-night, two-town trip through Virginia. After dropping their season opener to Liberty, 4-3, on Friday, the Red and Blue bounced back to take down Longwood, 5-2, on Sunday afternoon.
Friday’s tilt against the Flames (3-0) was eerily reminiscent of the two teams’ 2014 meeting, which Liberty won, 3-2, in Philadelphia. In both contests, Penn (1-1) surrendered two unanswered goals towards the end of the game, allowing the Flames to tie it up before taking the lead.
Last season’s defeat was also one of five one-goal losses suffered by the Quakers throughout the year. After going 9-2 in games decided by one goal in 2013, Penn has since dropped six of its last nine one-goal contests in the past two seasons, including on Friday.
“Field hockey is a close game," coach Colleen Fink said. "It’s a game of chance sometimes. But there’s obviously a big conversation within our staff about taking that next step.”
After Friday’s matchup was delayed 40 minutes due to inclement weather, Liberty quickly scored the game’s first two goals. However, sophomore standout Alexa Hoover scored a hat trick in the span of 23 minutes, giving the Red and Blue a 3-2 lead.
Liberty, however, responded by scoring twice in under two minutes to claim a lead it would never relinquish.
The Quakers rebounded quickly after Friday’s loss, taking down Longwood (0-3) in convincing fashion on Sunday. Four different players found the back of the net for Penn, including freshman standout Selena Garzio, who notched the team’s second goal, the first of her young career.
But Hoover was the star of the weekend. The reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year scored all three goals in the loss to Liberty before adding two more to go along with an assist on an Elise Tilton goal on Sunday.
After winning the Ancient Eight scoring title a year ago, Hoover’s five goals in the early going this season once again lead the conference.
“It wasn’t surprising,” Fink said of her star attacker’s 2015 debut. “She worked really hard in the offseason [and] we’ve seen a much broader range from her offensively.”
This weekend’s games also featured sophomore goaltender Liz Mata’s first action as the team’s first-string goaltender. The Severna Park, Md., native struggled in very limited action in 2014, allowing four goals on seven shots during the Quakers’ Oct. 9 game against Monmouth, her only start of the year.
Mata showed improvement in her first pair of games of 2015, registering seven saves against Liberty before adding two more versus Longwood.
“I think Liz had a really good game against Liberty. She had some stellar saves,” Fink said. “She’s shown some really good leadership, and she’s going to continue to work on all aspects of her game.”
The weekend’s games — both on the road against Virginia opponents — provided the Quakers with a rare chance for a multi-night road trip. The squad left Philadelphia on Thursday afternoon, heading to Liberty’s campus for two nights and then Longwood’s for one.
“It was a great experience, it’s always nice to get off campus for a couple days,” Fink said. “The girls were obviously rooming together, we went to see a movie, we ate lots of team meals together. To be honest, I think those are the moments that really define a team. We learned a lot from this road trip.”
The Quakers will next be in action Friday, when they host Saint Joseph’s at Vagelos Field. They will then make a short cross-city trip to take on Temple on Sunday.Comments powered by Disqus
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