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Credit: Christian Walton

It is common for athletes to take big steps forward in between their first and second seasons, and Penn field hockey sophomore forward Maddy Fagan is no exception.

The Quakers are heating up after an 0-5 start to their season, winning five of their last eight games, including two against Ivy League opponents. Much of the team's resurgence is to due to the breakout season of Fagan. In her freshman season, Fagan started only four games and didn’t tally a goal or assist. This season, Fagan's impact has increased dramatically — she has five goals, tied with the team lead, and three assists in her ten starts so far. 

In high school, Fagan was an all-around athlete playing basketball, soccer, track & field, and field hockey. She was successful in multiple sports, captaining both her soccer and track teams, while also earning Junior Olympics selections in 2015 and 2016 for field hockey.

But despite her participation in other sports, field hockey was always the choice for Fagan. Her mother played field hockey throughout college and currently coaches field hockey at Towson. That meant field hockey was always favored in the Fagan household, making the decision to pursue it in college was a natural one — even if there were times when it was challenging to play her mother's sport.

“It was fun, but tough sometimes because the line between mom and coach sometimes kind of blurred,” Fagan said. “Sometimes it's like I want you to be my mom, not my coach right now.”

While Fagan always knew that she would be playing field hockey in college, she wasn’t so sure that she would be playing it at Penn. Penn first came on her radar through a high school friend who was interested in attending Villanova. She learned that Penn was hosting a clinic with the other Philadelphia schools; she went to the clinic with her friend and then fell in love with Penn after visiting campus.

So far the decision has paid off for Fagan and the Red and Blue. After all, it's no coincidence that Fagan’s offensive outbreak is perfectly aligned with Penn’s turnaround this season.

Credit: Christian Walton

In the Red and Blue’s first win of the season, Fagan accounted for two goals off the bench. Two days later, she started the game against Temple and scored the game-winning goal in the fourth quarter. Fagan has started the past seven games, tallying three goals and three assists in that stretch. Two of those assists led to game-tying goals in overtime wins against Dartmouth and Drexel. In that seven-game stretch, the Quakers have won four games, and Fagan has played a major role in all of them.

“She’s found a position of leadership in the offense and she’s really found her spot within the press,” sophomore defender Gracyn Banks said. “She even helps the freshmen this year, so she’s been a big part of [the offense].”

Fagan now leads the team with 13 overall points. Her offensive prowess has not gone unnoticed as she was recently awarded Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week. 

“Maddy has been super important, and an imperative part of our offense,” Banks said. “In the beginning we were struggling a little bit and I think she really found a way to just put the goals away.”

For Fagan, the difference between last season and this season is her confidence. Last year as a freshman she was more passive, while this season she is being more aggressive and letting her offensive skills shine. 

“She is going to keep doing what she’s doing,” Banks said. “Every game she’s been a big part of it and she’s going to keep scoring goals.”

The Quakers are going to need Fagan’s goal-scoring abilities as they look to finish up their season strong in the last two weeks of the season. The team will need continued success from Fagan with both her scoring and her leadership.