In the throes of Ivy League play, our staff decided to take a look at the best individual performers of Penn Athletics' fall season. For one team having a dominant season, two stars at opposite ends of the pitch have impressed tremendously, while the third nominee seems to be carrying her team on her back offensively. But which of the three deserve to be fall MVP?
Theodoros Papazekos, Sports Editor
When a team has let up only three goals all season, and has kept 10 clean sheets, including seven in a row, its goalkeeper should be up for any and every award there is. That's the situation junior goalkeeper Kitty Qu and women's soccer find themselves in. Qu hasn't allowed a goal since Sept. 9, over a full month ago. She leads the conference in every goalkeeping stat except saves.
While the rest of the team deserves credit for keeping Qu's save numbers down and ensuring the shots she does face are not as threatening as they could be, the goalkeeper deserves credit for organizing the back line and taking command on set pieces. Qu now holds the program record for shutouts, and is on pace to rewrite more history in the single-season categories.
Her performance in net allows the Red and Blue to be more adventurous in the midfield, resulting in a scoring boom that has already doubled their total production from a season ago. With the Quakers in great position to win the Ivy title for the first time since 2010, their leader in net deserves a lot of the credit.
Michael Landau, Associate Sports Editor
Penn field hockey might only have a .500 record so far this year, but midfielder Alexa Schneck is playing like a bonafide star. The junior captain has scored seven of the Quakers’ 17 goals this season, including three game-winners against Cornell, Temple, and Dartmouth. In addition, Schneck has four assists this year, all of which have come in one-goal wins for the Red and Blue.
Even when Schneck has not been able to help the team score, she has still been a significant force on the field. She has racked up 23 shots on goal already, with a season-high five in wins over Dartmouth and Columbia. Schneck has also been an extremely durable presence for the Quakers, playing for 887 minutes so far, an average of over 63 per game.
Penn will have a difficult conclusion to the season, with two Ivy League matchups leading up to the finale at No. 3 Princeton. With Schneck on the field, however, the team’s chances to win are much, much higher.
Jonathan Pollack, Senior Sports Editor
On the best team this season, Emily Sands has been the best and most valuable player. Sure, Kitty Qu has been a brick wall in goal, leading the Ivy League in goals against and save percentage, and she absolutely deserves praise and recognition. But a significant portion of the credit for Penn’s stalwart defense goes to the entirety of the unit, which has limited opponents to 9.7 shots per game. And while Sands alone is not responsible for the Quakers’ offensive outburst, she’s played a huge role in winning games this season.
The junior forward has been the definition of clutch — all six of her team-leading goals have been game-winners. Four of those six scores have been the lone goal in the game. In addition to goals, Sands provided two assists and leads the team in points and shots on goal. Most recently, she scored the golden goal against Lehigh on Oct. 8 with just 52 seconds left in double overtime.
When the Quakers have needed her most, Sands has been there. She’s provided the heroics time and time again, and she’s been a consistent force even when she’s not scoring. The Red and Blue would certainly not be in the position they are without her.