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The fall season may still be quite young for Penn Athletics, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been any surprises. So now, with most Red and Blue teams having gotten their seasons under way, we take the opportunity to discuss the squads that have made us reconsider our preseason expectations.

Sports Editor Colin Henderson: For me, it’s gotta be men’s soccer. And before anyone says anything, I know; the Quakers did, in fact, play Washington, a team that was ranked No. 7 in the nation at the time, to a scoreless tie in its season opener. But honestly, that’s a bit beside the point.

Of course, it’s impressive that the Red and Blue held the Huskies scoreless, but they have not shown the offensive prowess to match their defensive accomplishments. In 300 minutes of play thus far, the Quakers have scored only one goal. They were shut out in each of their first two matches. They have held only one lead, and they relinquished that in a disappointing 3-1 loss to Florida International this past Thursday.

These struggles shouldn’t necessarily be surprising, especially given that the Red and Blue lost forward Duke Lacroix — who was one of the most prolific offensive players in team history — to graduation the past offseason. However, I expected that coach Rudy Fuller would be able to put enough talent around Alec Neumann to produces some goal-scoring opportunities. There is still time for that to happen, but that hasn’t been the case thus far.

Sports Editor Holden McGinnis: I’m not sure how good we really thought women’s soccer would be this year; it was hard to get a good read with an inconsistent season last year and a major coaching change this offseason. But so far this season, the team has been fairly dominant. Penn opened the season with three straight wins at Rhodes Field by a combined 8-2 margin.

While this weekend saw a road loss to No. 11 Clemson, it was to be expected given the Tigers’ pedigree. Penn certainly seems to have the pieces put together early on in coach Nicole Van Dyke’s first season. What’s been particularly impressive for the Quakers is the variety of offensive options they’ve had, as eight different players have recorded a goal through the first five matches.

The Quakers still have a pair of non-conference matches left before the Ivy League slate kicks off, but all signs now point to Penn having a strong campaign.

Associate Sports Editor Tom Nowlan: It’s gotta be field hockey. Coming in to the season, we weren’t sure what to expect from the Quakers; the Red and Blue posted a mediocre 8-9 record in 2014 and then lost Emily Corcoran and MaryRose Croddick to graduation. Though key pieces such as Elizabeth Hitti and Alexa Hoover were set to return, the team certainly had major question marks at key positions such as defense and goalkeeper.

However, the team has looked quite good through its first four games, going 3-1. The success can be most clearly attributed to the incredible play of Hoover – the sophomore has 11 (!!!) goals on the season, five of which came in Friday’s demolishing of Saint Joseph’s. If her offensive output can stay at that level all season, the Quakers will be extremely hard to beat. We knew she would be good — but not this good. And that’s what’s made field hockey the most surprising Penn team so far.

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