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Senior midfielder Alexa Schneck and the rest of Penn field hockey kick off Ivy League play this weekend against Cornell.

Credit: Kelsey Warren

When one door closes, another opens.

After a winless start to the year, Penn field hockey has its sights set on the first Ivy League game of the season against Cornell at home on Saturday. After this League opener, the Quakers will travel to Temple the following day.

“In the past, we’ve never looked at it as two separate seasons, but now we have the advantage of [saying], ‘Okay, that part of the season is behind us, let’s move forward and now attack this part of the season,'” coach Colleen Fink said.

Senior goalkeeper Ava Rosati has saved 63% of the 79 shots she has faced this season. On the other hand, Penn’s offense has only converted 6% of its shots to goals, despite outshooting both Monmouth and Villanova. Cornell goalkeeper Maddie Henry has saved 67% of shots, and Temple goalkeeper Cristina Carotenuto has stopped 68%.

Three of Penn’s four goals this season have come from sophomore forward Madison Jiranek. The other goal came from sophomore midfielder Gracyn Banks, who has taken 25 shots for the Red and Blue (0-5). Banks has been putting her own name on what used to be the role of the graduated Paige Meily who was a first team All-Ivy player last year.

Despite being five games into the season, the Quakers will have the opportunity to have a new mentality with the start of Ivy games.

“I think the key is going to be to enter the game confidently, feeling prepared, feeling like we can win, and feeling like we put in the work to be able to reap the benefits despite the fact that we haven’t yet done that,” Fink said.

“It’s Ivy play, so there’s always a different intensity,” senior captain Alexa Schneck said. "I think that’s what we’ve been looking forward to all season.”

Credit: Amanda Jiacheng Shen

Last year, the Quakers were able to edge Cornell in a 1-0 match on the road, a contest that also marked the beginning of Ivy play in 2018. By that point last season, the Red and Blue had a record of 4-3. However, the team's focus is not on this season’s early shortcomings, but rather the opportunities that lie ahead.

“For us, whatever happened is in the past, and we’re looking at it as a way of moving forward and going all out for Ivy play,” Schneck said.

The Big Red defeated current-No. 18 Syracuse in their first competition of the season, so this weekend will be another tough test for Penn.

Following their game against Cornell, the Quakers will turn around and play Temple (4-2) at Howarth Field on Sunday.

“We do take the City Six very seriously," Rosati said. “We’re really excited to come out and prove ourselves."

The Quakers defeated the Owls in the 2018 season by a three-goal margin, and they hope to find similar success this weekend.

A win for Penn this weekend would give the group a morale boost going into the rest of the season, and Schneck has no doubt that the Red and Blue are poised for a win. 

“I think it comes down to hard work, preparation, and heart,” Schneck said.

Penn may not have begun the season in the way that it wanted, but a piece of good news for the team is that Saturday's contest represents the beginning of a new season: the Ivy League season.