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10-9-2021-field-hockey-versus-cornell-meghan-ward-julia-van-lare
Junior Meghan Ward turns to shoot and scores in the last six seconds of the game against Cornell on Oct. 9. Credit: Julia Van Lare

Nerve-racking.

That is how it must have felt for the Penn field hockey team during their game against Cornell on Saturday. In a game that needed an overtime for a winner to be decided, the Quakers were able to walk away with a gritty win by a score of 2-1 to defeat the Big Red (6-4, 2-1 Ivy). Penn (4-6, 1-2 Ivy) was able to secure their first Ivy League win of the season. 

Penn came out strong in the first quarter, gaining their first corner of the game less than a minute after the push back. It was blocked by a Cornell defender, but the Red and Blue quickly grabbed another chance on a corner. With the next one, the Quakers started with the same set up, but junior defender Elita Van Staden's shot went just wide out of bounds. 

Cornell was able to score the first goal of the game off a corner after chipping away at sophomore goalkeeper Sabien Paumen, who had six saves on the day. 

“Sabien played really well; she really kept us in there. Cornell has really great corners, but she made a lot of fantastic saves,” junior midfielder Meghan Ward said. 

The Big Red's lead did not last long, as the Red and Blue quickly responded with a goal of their own late in the first quarter. Off of a corner, junior forwarder/midfielder Sydney Huang made an amazing pass to Van Staden, who fired over a pass to senior defender Gracyn Banks on the right hand side of the field. Banks then quickly fired it over to junior midfielder Olivia Kenny who tapped it in for the back door goal past the Cornell goalie. 

The first half ended with both teams in a stalemate of 1-1. At halftime, the Penn field hockey Class of 2020 was honored, because they missed out on their senior day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The second half proved to be very much like the first with both teams creating great opportunities to score, but having no luck converting. Most notably, late in regulation, Cornell defender Julia Darmo received a card, but the Quakers were unable to get off a shot. 

Coming into overtime, Penn had much of the momentum with a corner early in overtime. Banks had a great shot that was saved by the Cornell goalie and ended up rebounding out. Junior midfielder Maya Geller picked up the rebound, but rung it off the post after she beat the goalkeeper.

With six seconds left in the overtime period, Ward was able to score an amazing breakaway goal that sealed the deal for the Quakers. 

“I knew it was the end of overtime so it was a long time that we had been playing on the field and everyone was exhausted, “ Ward said. “I saw that we came up with the defensive save, and then [sophomore] Lis [Zandbergen] got the ball and started running up field. She's one of the fastest players on our team, so I knew that I had to get on my horse to get up to make a play. She made a great pass through the defense, and then when I got into the circle, I just went to my forehand and touched it in a nice little easy goal – nothing too crazy.”

This was Penn field hockey’s last game before fall break, and they will be using the extra time away from school to work on team bonding before their next game. 

“Fall break can’t come soon enough, Head Coach Colleen Fink said. “It's been a tough two weeks. I think it's just incredible that they've been dealing with so much on the field and off the field, exams, midterms, all of the school work that they've had, and they were able to play at a tough game."

Overall, Fink was very proud of how her team played but still thinks that there is room for improvement. 

“I think we played very well, “ Fink said. “We stuck to our game plan almost in entirety. I think there were a couple of moments where we got a little away from it [and] got a little sloppy. We got a little impatient and were trying to go forward and go direct goal, and we really need to be more disciplined off the turnover redirection. But other than that I thought that it was a well-played game. I was very impressed with how they played in overtime and it's something that is hard to simulate in practice."

The Quakers will travel to Providence, R.I. on Thursday as they prepare for their next game on Saturday against the Brown Bears (6-6, 2-1 Ivy). 

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