Make it seven in a row for Penn field hockey.
Entering their match on Saturday on a six-game winning streak, the Quakers went head-to-head with Ivy League opponent Harvard up in Cambridge, Mass., and came out on top, 2-1, in an intense overtime contest.
The first half proved to be challenging for the Red and Blue (7-1, 2-0 Ivy) as they were initially forced onto the defensive. Cutting into Penn’s back line, Harvard’s Marissa Balleza fielded a pass from Ellie Cookson and drove it past sophomore goalkeeper Liz Mata into the back of the net. The rest of the half was dominated by defensive play by the Crimson that helped the squad carry its 1-0 lead into the break.
Nine minutes into the second half, Harvard (6-3, 1-1) scored off of a penalty corner to go up 2-0. However, after a brief discussion between the referees, the goal was disallowed, keeping the score at 1-0.
The rude awakening pushed the Quakers’ offense into the rhythm it was struggling to find in the first half. Now pushing the Crimson back onto the defensive, Penn held an 11-2 shot advantage throughout the second half before sophomore Gina Guccione notched a goal late to level the score.
With only four minutes left in the second half, junior Claire Kneizys maneuvered along the right side of the arc off a penalty corner before passing the ball to Guccione on the other side of the field. Taking the cross, Guccione managed to get a shot off and helped the Quakers force the game into overtime.
“[The] defense played extremely well [with] Claire leading the way,” coach Colleen Fink said. “I think she played really smart. She stepped up and broke up a lot of critical plays early on the field.
“I think our outside backs did exactly what they needed to do. We didn’t get stretched and we played very strong position-wise.”
Rallying their efforts, the Red and Blue kept the pressure on the Crimson in the extra period.
“I know that when we go into overtime, we all know how to play, and we can just work around the other team,” junior attacker Elise Tilton said.
“We really wanted to wear them down, possess the ball, play the game our style and come up with the win,” Kneizys added.
After 81 minutes of play, a penalty corner proved to be exactly what the Quakers needed to seal the game. With three minutes left in the first overtime, junior Elizabeth Hitti took a shot that was barely blocked by Crimson goalkeeper Issy Davies and sent to the far right post. After picking up the rebound, Tilton pushed it past Davies to secure a 2-1 overtime victory for Penn, the second consecutive game in which the Quakers won in overtime.
The victory marks the first time since September 2014 that Penn has won a game without a goal from either Hitti or her fellow attacker, sophomore Alexa Hoover. Off to the best eight-game start in program history and with two wins to their name in Ivy play, the Quakers are looking to maintain the momentum they have established in the first month of the season.
“We really want to win the Ivy League championships this year, and it really comes down to every single game,” said Kneizys.
Penn’s next Ivy match will be against Dartmouth on Vagelos Field on Saturday afternoon.
“We need to continue playing the way we play and not let Dartmouth change the way we enter the game and play,” Guccione said.
The Red and Blue will next be facing off with Lafayette this Tuesday at home.Comments powered by Disqus
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