The Quakers hit a hard bump in the road this weekend in Cambridge.
On Saturday, Penn field hockey fell to No. 14 Harvard 6-0 on Berylson Field as the Crimson scored four goals in the first half and finished the game with six different goal scorers on 17 total shots. Junior goalkeeper Libby Manela earned the shutout in goal for her eighth win of the season.
This game was seen as a key test for the Quakers (4-5, 1-1 Ivy) as Harvard (8-2, 1-0 Ivy) is seen as a favorite to defend their 2016 Ivy League championship, and the loss represents a significant setback in Penn's own quest for its own Ancient Eight title.
Penn's entire team struggled against Harvard, but the offense was especially ineffective. The unit garnered only five shots during the entire game and could not establish a consistent presence on Harvard's side of the field.
“We were just not destructive enough offensively. We just did not make their defense uncomfortable in the attacking third,” coach Colleen Fink said.
The loss snapped a string of momentum for the Quakers, who had won four out of their last five contests. Penn defeated American last weekend 3-2 on the road in overtime. Prior to that thriller, the Quakers won their first Ivy game of the year against Cornell 2-0. The Harvard loss also snapped senior forward Alexa Hoover’s six-game streak with at least one point.
“I think our offensive structure was not great,” Fink added.
But it wasn't just the offense that faltered. In her first career start, sophomore goalkeeper Ava Rosati was besieged from the onset. The Crimson put pressure on the Quakers' defensive unit early and often, culminating in the first goal in the just the eighth minute of play. Additionally, Harvard had eight penalty corners and took advantage of many of their opportunities.
“They just had a lot more energy to the ball and capitalized on their early opportunities,” the eight-year coach said.
Penn hopes to learn from the game and improve as Ivy League play continues. The Quakers next chance to show their improvement will be next Saturday when they host Dartmouth.
Despite the demoralizing lose, Fink seems confident in her team’s ability to bounce back.
“I think there are one of two ways a team can take this," Fink said. "It can take this with a defeatist attitude and say, 'Maybe we are not good enough' and second guess itself, or they can rise up and decide that they need to get better and we need to work harder and we need to be better on all fronts, offensively, defensively, as well as from the coaching standpoint.
“I think the character of this team is to choose the latter and that’s what I’m anticipating.”