Even Mother Nature couldn’t stop Penn field hockey from playing a full slate of games this weekend.
During a long spell of rainy weather in the Philly area, the Quakers traveled to nearby Villanova on Friday before returning home to Ellen Vagelos Field on Sunday to face No. 15 St. Joseph’s. The weekend ended in a split, as Penn was victorious in a thrilling 2-1 win against the Wildcats before falling 4-0 to the Hawks.
Despite the opposite results across the two games, senior forward/midfielder Rachel Mirkin believes that the team can take away something from both.
“I think we have to build off of both games because there are a lot of things we have to work on, and there are some things we did well,” Mirkin said.
On Friday, those positives shined through. In a game against Villanova (2-3) that was close the entire way, the Quakers (2-2) rebounded from an early deficit to tie the game in the 13th minute on a goal from sophomore midfielder Erin Kelly. The score remained deadlocked at 1-1 for over 50 minutes until a clutch goal from Mirkin in the 65th put Penn ahead for good.
The win was impressive, but the final result overshadowed some troubling statistics from the box score, particularly the 15-13 deficit in shots for Penn. This would foreshadow some of the problems that would arise on Sunday against a tough ranked opponent in St. Joe’s (4-1).
In a driving sideways rain that became heavier and heavier as the early afternoon game wore on, the Quakers never managed to gain any momentum. The Hawks scored their first goal in the 8th minute and never looked back en route to a comfortable four-goal victory. They dominated Penn in the shot count by a 14-6 margin, never giving the Quakers a true chance to get back into the game.
Mirkin recognized many of the issues the team faced and knows that they weren’t simply a product of Sunday’s performance.
“We need to take more shots. We need to play better baseline defense,” she said. “I think having these two games will show us that and help us moving forward.”
From the outside, it may have appeared as though the inclement weather was one of the main causes of Sunday’s struggles, but Mirkin was not using it as an excuse.
“I don’t think it affected the game,” she said. “You have to play through anything. I think some people prefer playing in the rain sometimes.”
Despite the loss, coach Colleen Fink was still feeling positive about the Quakers, emphasizing their youth in her evaluation of their performance.
“I have the utmost confidence in our team. I think we’re a strong team, and I think at times we show our inexperience,” she said. “I’m not feeling negative in the least bit. We just need to work through some of these growing pains.”
Additionally, Fink noted that the team’s even record might not be indicative of its overall success due to its losses to ranked teams in St. Joe’s and No. 2 UNC.
“We’re 2-2 and we have two losses to two very strong teams,” she said. “Some of this stuff is to be expected.”
The Red and Blue will now need to recover fast, as another busy weekend is coming up with games at Iowa on Friday and back at Vagelos Field on Sunday against University City rival Drexel.
With plenty of opportunities to make up for Sunday’s loss ahead for Penn, Mirkin was optimistic about the team’s chances.
“I still feel like we’re a very strong team, and we can come back from it,” she said. “We’ve had some tough go-arounds, but I think we’ve also had some highs, and I think that we can still do well this season.”
If that’s true, the outlook for the Quakers will be a lot more sunny than the Philly weather.