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Field Hockey Colleen Fink coached from the sidelines once again Sunday since the last season in 2019. Credit: Chase Sutton

In Penn field hockey’s first game in over 600 days, the Quakers fell to No. 5 Louisville (4-0) in a 3-1 loss at Princeton’s Bedford Field. The game was highlighted by career firsts for many of the Quakers' younger players. Notably, sophomore Sabien Paumen made her collegiate debut in the net and totaled six saves in 60 minutes. 

“It felt incredible to be back,” Coach Colleen Fink said. “I think the energy is really great. I think that we are trying to look forward and not dwell on the fact that we didn’t play. I also don’t want them to lose sight of the appreciation for playing, which was robbed of us because of this pandemic. It is like striking that balance, being grateful for the opportunity and the ability to play the game we love, but also keep[ing] your eyes forward and not dwell[ing] on that and not let[ting] that impact how we play or what our expectations are.” 

The Cardinals’ explosive offense proved too much for Penn (0-2). Louisville got the lead early and was able to hold on. Nine minutes into the game, the tie was broken off when Cardinal sophomore Charlie van Oirschot assisted Julie Kouijzer on a connected penalty corner that snuck through the legs of Paumen.

Later in the second quarter, at the 20-minute mark, Louisville extended its lead to 2-0 with a deflected penalty corner that hit the left-hand corner. Two minutes later, the Quakers answered back, cutting the deficit in half. 

In the 23rd minute, junior Sydney Huang sent a long pass up the left side of the field to sophomore Allison Kuzyk, who skillfully collected the pass inside the arc, faked out the goalie by pulling the ball to her left side, and craftily fired a reverse shot past the diving Louisville keeper into the right side of the cage for her first collegiate goal.

Paumen and the rest of the defense played tight the rest of the game, but could not stop Louisville from adding a third goal to extend the lead to 3-1. At the 38 minute mark, the Cardinals tapped in a cross from the right side of the cage to the left post, which helped secure their victory.

In the fourth quarter, the Quakers continued to fight. They outshot the Cardinals 4-2 and drew three penalty corners, but they could not penetrate the tough Louisville defense.

While the Red and Blue did not come away with the win, there were many bright spots with younger players stepping into essential roles. 

“Our freshmen and our sophomores and our less experienced juniors really stepped up into those critical roles and did a really nice job,"  Fink said. “Obviously, I would have loved to have walked away with a win, but frankly, I think we had the opportunity to win, so I think that puts us into a position to be successful moving forward.” 

Penn opened up the season with tough ranked competition, which Fink hopes will help the team become more experienced. 

“I think that we put ourselves in a position to open up against some really strong competition this weekend, and I was really proud of our team; they just rose to the occasion,” coach Fink said. “Obviously, there were some takeaways of some things that we need to fix. Still, I definitely think there were a lot of bright spots, and to be able to do that against a high ranked opponent after coming off a season of non-competition, in the circumstance that we are all under and facing, I think it is something for our team to be incredibly proud of.”

Penn will hope to rebound from their season-opening loss with a win in a weekend matchup with the defending national champions, No.1 North Carolina, at Princeton. 

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