For the first time this season, Penn field hockey is in the win column.
Coming into this weekend, the Quakers were dangerously close to being on the wrong side of history. Their five consecutive losses to start the season were tied with the 2001 Penn team for the worst start in program history. However, the group ended its losing streak with a 5-2 win against Cornell to open Ivy League play. Penn then rode that momentum to a thrilling 2-1 win over Temple.
On Saturday afternoon, the Quakers (2-5, 1-0 Ivy) began their Ivy League season at home against Cornell (3-2, 0-1). Penn came into the game with only four goals scored throughout its first five games, but the team scored five in one game against the Big Red. Penn’s offensive breakout got started with a first quarter goal from senior forward Alexa Schneck, which was her first goal of the season.
With the game tied at one after the first quarter, the Big Red would take their first and only lead of the game at the start of the second quarter. However, the Red and Blue responded with four unanswered goals to regain and keep the lead. Freshman defender Elita Van Staden and sophomore forward Maddy Fagan both got their first two goals of the season during Penn’s four-goal stretch.
This offensive outburst couldn't have come at a better time for a Penn team that has had a problem converting chances into goals.
“If you look back in the statistics from some of the past games that we were even walking away with a loss, we still were producing a lot of offense and a lot of offensive opportunities; we just weren’t capitalizing on every single one,” coach Colleen Fink said.
The defense also had a strong showing, allowing just six shots on goal with senior goalkeeper Ava Rosati tallying four saves.
It was a quick turnaround for the Quakers, as they traveled across town to face off against Temple (4-4) on Sunday. Unlike the Cornell game, this contest was much tighter and was decided in the final minutes.
The Owls opened up the scoring in the first quarter, but that would be the only goal they would notch for the rest of the day. The Red and Blue went into the third quarter trailing, 1-0, but that didn't hold for long as sophomore forward Madison Jiranek tied the game up.
Penn allowed only three shots on goal, an opponent’s lowest against the Quakers this season. Penn’s defense kept Temple off the board until Fagan ultimately put the game away with the game-winning goal with 5:27 left on the clock in the fourth quarter. For the Red and Blue, that could be the goal that turns their season around.
“It’s a great feeling to score, and I’m just really thankful for my team,” Fagan said. “It really was a team effort, but obviously I’m pretty happy right now.”
“To win a big game [Saturday] was a bit emotionally taxing, and so it is very easy to have a deflated sense of urgency and deflated mentality going into the second game of the weekend,” Fink said. “It is very easy to have a little lapse, and I think this shows that they are going to maintain their mentality of resilience and grit and support of one another.”
With the team not starting the season the way it planned, it could have been easy for the team to be dejected.
“It is a true testament to the girls’ ability to just believe in themselves and to continue working hard, continue staying focused, and continuing to support one another through those trying times,” Fink said. “This team has been displaying a tremendous amount of character and I really couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Now, with a two-game win streak under their belt, the Quakers will take a trip to Massachusetts to face off against Harvard and Boston University next weekend.
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