For many college freshmen, the first few weeks of the school year are a time for adjustment. It takes some time for them to get used to their new life away from home.
But not for the freshmen on Penn field hockey.
Even though they are barely a month into their collegiate careers, the team's newest members are already making a noticeable impact.
Out of a class of seven, three rookies in particular have made their presence known in nonconference play. First, there is right back Reese Vogel. The Houston, Texas native has started all six games thus far, and has only sat for 10 out of 420 minutes, helping to anchor a defense that has only allowed 1.83 goals per game despite a tough opening slate.
"I think she's the best example of a kid that's not playing like a freshman. I mean she's incredibly poised, but she's incredibly tough," coach Colleen Fink said. "She plays the physical side of the game really well, and when you're facing teams like we face, you need somebody like that who's not going to shy away from that style of play, and she's just embraced it."
Next, midfielder Erin Kelly has played a crucial role off the bench. Despite not starting a game yet, she has appeared in all six games and has been on the field for more than half of the action. Fink sees her role on the team as a sparkplug, providing a critical boost in the middle of the field.
"Erin Kelly is coming off the bench, but she's great off the bench," Fink said. "She's like fired up and ready to go, she loves to play. She too asks a lot of questions, she wants to get better every day at practice, she wants to do it right, she wants to do it well.
The third freshman, attacker Erin Quinn, has split time between starting at left wing and coming off the bench. While she has already had an impact, with several shots on goal, Fink believes there is far more potential there.
"When you ask just for a kid who, in high school, relied on her athleticism and ability to just get free, to eliminate, to attack space, those were all of her strengths," Fink said. "And then when you put her in this type of environment, where we're asking her to do other things that she's never been asked to do, especially defensively, it takes a bit longer I think for them to kinda evolve into that."
The credit for the quick transition doesn't just go to the freshman. Over the summer and early on in the preseason, the more experienced members of the team made a point to go out of their way to make the new players feel welcome and comfortable with their new team.
"In May, we contacted the freshmen, and we wanted to FaceTime or Skype with each of them, to let them know how the team works, our team dynamic, what we expect out of them, if they had any questions, including them before the summer starts, so that way during the whole summer, they know what they're working for," senior captain Alexa Hoover said.
And that plan worked to perfection. The rookies came into the season already very familiar with the program and their teammates, which gave them one less thing to worry about.
"I never felt that level of uncertainty or any kind of insecurity coming on to the field just because they made it so clear that no matter what year you are, you're going to make and we want you to feel like you can contribute in any way," Kelly said.
"Since such a big part of the game playing on the field is trusting your teammates, so it was nice to go into it knowing them and feeling comfortable with them," Vogel added.
Even though they're just a few games into their career, Vogel, Kelly and Quinn have already become vital players to the team. But with almost the entirety of their careers in front of them, they have plenty left to prove.
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