Penn field hockey continues to struggle to put its offense and defense together, as the team remains winless on the season.
The Quakers looked to bounce back this weekend after losing their first two games in shutouts to ranked opponents. They had a good chance to get in the win column with games against unranked competition in Monmouth and Villanova. However, at the end of the weekend, the Red and Blue stayed winless on the season with losses to the Hawks, 4-2, and the Wildcats, 3-2.
On Friday, the Quakers (0-4) broke their scoreless drought with their first goal of the season by sophomore midfielder Gracyn Banks in the second quarter. One minute later, sophomore forward Madison Jiranek followed up with a goal of her own. That was the last bright spot for Penn in the game, as the Hawks (4-2) would score four unanswered goals to win the contest.
The Quakers looked to turn the tables in their home opener against Villanova (3-1). However, the story was almost identical to the team’s loss against Monmouth.
Penn opened the scoring in the first period, with a goal from Jiranek giving the Quakers a quick lead. The advantage was brief, however, as Villanova came back with a goal of its own to tie the game. The second period was quiet, and the game remained knotted at one at halftime. Jiranek came back after halftime with a goal to give the Red and Blue a 2-1 lead. However, the defense faltered, allowing two goals that gave Villanova the lead for good.
In the two games, Penn allowed a total of 17 shots on goal. A point of emphasis for coach Colleen Fink was for the defense to apply more pressure and to step in to intercept passes.
In both games, Penn managed to score first, yet after giving up their leads, the Red and Blue were unable to come back from the deficit.
“We just need to have more aggression going forward and just leave it all out there,” Jiranek said. “We know what we have to do to get around them and score. We just have to keep pushing and keep that aggressive mentality going.”
For the Quakers, the problem is not only the defense giving up goals, but also the offense not generating enough goals to close out games. In their game against Monmouth, the Red and Blue matched the Hawks’ shots on goal with 16. On Sunday, the Quakers out-shot the Wildcats, 20-13, but they only managed to convert those shots into two goals in each game.
“I like the offense that we’re generating. We’re getting a lot of good looks, attack has been playing with a lot more tenacity,” Fink said. “But the quality of the shots and the ability to move the goalkeeper is where we need to improve.”
Despite Penn’s tough start to the season, the group will try to leave these games behind and look toward the rest of the season.
“We’re all pretty frustrated and angry right now,” Jiranek said. “We have been talking a lot about forgetting about these first four games but remembering all the bad things that went wrong and using it to fuel us.”
The schedule will continue to be challenging for the Red and Blue, as next Sunday they will travel across town to face yet another ranked opponent, No. 17 St. Joe’s.
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