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Sophomore Sabien Paumen blocks an attempted shot by Towson on Sept. 19 at Ellen Vagelos Field. Credit: Anna Vazhaeparambil

Penn field hockey came up just short against the Harvard Crimson by a score of 3-1 on Saturday.

The Quakers’ defense came out strong, allowing the Crimson (8-1, 2-0 Ivy) only one errant shot the entire first quarter. After a series of back and forth possessions, the Quakers (3-6, 0-2) were given two strong opportunities to capitalize. In back-to-back penalty corners, team captain Gracyn Banks ripped two separate shots at Crimson goalie Ellie Shahbo, but the Red and Blue came up empty handed.

Shahbo has been a brick wall for the Crimson this year and finished this contest with three more saves.

Penn goalkeeper Sabien Paumen continued her impressive season, totaling five saves, including a diving split save, in addition to a spectacular defensive play at the end of the first quarter where she swatted the ball out of the air to make the play for the Quakers.

Penn's stellar defensive play continued throughout the entire second quarter. The Crimson had three looks on goal at the beginning of the quarter, but their efforts were no match for Paumen and the Quakers’ defensive front.

“There are going to be some high pressure, high stakes situations defensively, and it's their job to handle those situations so we are in the best position to win the game,” coach Colleen Fink said. 

The Quakers have relied heavily on their defense all season and will continue to do so in the future.

At the end of the half, junior midfielder Olivia Kenny capitalized with her first goal of the season after a green card that gave Penn a one-player advantage. The goal was assisted by freshman Sophie Freedman and Penn entered the half with a 1-0 lead over the No. 12 Crimson.

“It was definitely a team effort,” Kenny said. “Sophie really carried it there and I kind of just tapped it in at the end.”

Freedman has made key plays for the Quakers all season, earning her first start last weekend against the Syracuse Orange. She is proving that she could play a factor in Penn's quest to win an Ivy League crown this year.

The Crimson wasted no time after the half, scoring a quick goal off a corner to level the contest.

The fourth quarter proved to be a battle between the Quakers’ defense and the Crimson offense. The Red and Blue defense allowed just one goal on four corners by the Harvard offense, giving the Crimson a one goal lead. 

Fink made a late push with four minutes left by pulling Paumen, but the Crimson scored their last goal on an empty net, making the final game score 3-1. 

Despite the loss, Fink found room for optimism after the game. 

“The team needs to keep up what they have been doing,” Fink said. “The team came into it with so much effort and heart and we are getting there.”

The Quakers continue their quest for their first Ivy League win of the season back home at Vagelos Field against the Cornell Big Red next Saturday, Oct. 9th at 11 a.m.