It hurts to lose. And for all Penn sports, it especially hurts to fall to Princeton.
A loss to Princeton is perhaps most sensitive for Penn field hockey. And for the last game for their senior class, the Quakers (11-6, 4-3 Ivy) fell 6-1 to Princeton in their season finale.
For Penn, it was a gut-wrenching finish to a season that started with Ivy League title aspirations. The Quakers finish the 2016 season in third place in the Ancient Eight, with the Tigers (10-7, 5-2) taking second. Much like Penn’s other losses this year, the score fails to tell most of the story. As a matter of fact, Penn kept the game competitive for the majority of play.
Scoring started fast on Saturday: Princeton scored six minutes into the course of play. Penn would later retaliate when sophomore Sofia Palacios picked up her seventh goal of the season. Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, that would be the team’s last goal of the season.
Two goals from the Tigers brought the halftime score to 3-1. Looking to end a long losing streak to Princeton, Penn’s comeback efforts were thwarted when Alexa Hoover, the team’s superstar goal-scorer, received her second yellow card of the game, this time a 10-minute infraction. The call was questionable; The effects were damaging.
Princeton would score midway through the penalty and proceeded to pelt goalkeeper Liz Mata with shots. The defense held up valiantly but the team ultimately struggled to create chances against an equally stingy Tigers defense.
With the game at 4-1 and just a few minutes left, the Tigers continued to keep up the pressure, scoring with 1:11 left. To add salt to the wound, Princeton was awarded a penalty corner with just three seconds left and scored a sixth goal. That was the final point that either team will score this season, with Princeton’s season unlikely to continue.
But for Penn, the 2016 season was in many ways a positive one. The team showed resilience, recovering from deficits several times to pick up key wins. The defense will return all three starters and the attack will return all three of theirs. The scoring has come from a variety of different sources in recent games, which has helped to remove some pressure from Hoover.
Certainly, this is not the swan song that the team’s two outgoing seniors, captains Claire Kneizys and Elise Tilton, expected, but it does not take away from the individual successes they had picked up over the prior seasons.
For Penn field hockey, the future is certainly bright, even if this offseason is going to start earlier than they originally would have liked.