Erin Kelly said it best: this team is on the rise.
“Our trajectory’s in the right direction; we just need to capitalize a little bit more.”
The sophomore midfielder and the rest of her team have a lot of positives to pull from a weekend doubleheader at home. Penn field hockey finished with a split result, losing a tight conference contest to No. 12 Harvard 2-1 on Saturday before rebounding with a 3-0 victory against crosstown-rival Temple. The loss was Penn's second to the No. 12 team in the country after falling to Syracuse last weekend.
Penn’s weekend started off with a high-quality battle against Harvard (9-1, 2-0 Ivy). Both teams went scoreless in a tightly contested first half. After Harvard went ahead early in the second half, junior defender Alexa Schneck was able to connect on senior defender Paige Meily's assist in the 46th minute to level the score at 1-1.
The two teams continued at a stalemate for the majority of the second half. The game seemed destined for overtime, until Harvard’s sophomore forward Natalie Sicher scored the go-ahead goal for the Crimson with under 10 minutes left to play. The Red and Blue (5-5, 1-1) were unable to rebound and lost their first conference match of the season.
But the Quakers didn’t let the unsatisfactory result detract from their level from play.
“We came out with a lot of intensity, and we gave it all we got,” Schneck said. “Unfortunately, there was one lapse where they scored their second goal. I think we learned a lot from the game; we can’t really give up those mini-lapses that result in where they end up scoring.”
Penn applied those lessons well. In the 39th meeting between the Red and Blue and the Owls (2-9), the Quakers picked up their fourth consecutive victory over Temple in style. Penn delivered a dominant offensive performance, creating 23 shots compared to just one for Temple.
Kelly and Schneck were able to convert on their opportunities as Schneck scored once in the first half and both Quakers found the back of the net in the second half. Schneck now leads the team with 11 points on the season.
Where a doubleheader may have hurt the Quakers in the past, this weekend the schedule worked to their advantage in that their opponents had similar playing styles. Schneck noted that both Harvard and Temple were very aggressive and choppy on the ball. By Sunday’s match the Quakers were able to fine tune their game plan and clean up their execution.
And of course, you can never disregard the importance of the home crowd.
“We love everything about stepping on to [Ellen Vagelos] field,” Kelly said. “Especially knowing about who came before us. It was really exciting to have so many alums here with us today to make them proud, to show them that Penn field hockey is still full of pride for what we stand for.”
This weekend it was evident that not only are the pride and fight still there in this year’s squad, but the quality is as well. And as Penn looks ahead to a fall break bout with Dartmouth, the key will be to keep that trajectory pointed upwards.