Two field hockey teams coming off consecutive losses to ranked opponents met at Ellen Vagelos Field on Friday, desperate to get back in the win column.
Unfortunately for Penn, some late-game heroics by Boston College and missed opportunities on their own end caused the team to fall just short, losing by a score of 2-1.
Defense was the name of the game in the first half of this one. Despite both teams having goalkeepers that hadn’t even made five career starts going into this game — junior Hayley Hayden for the Quakers (0-4) and freshman Carine Van Wiechen for the Eagles (2-4) — neither was tested in the first two periods of the game. Even with senior captain Gracyn Banks leading her team with great defense, Penn was unable to get a shot off. They were rushing early on in the game, making forced passes that resulted in loss of possession at times. For the Eagles, one penalty corner in the second quarter that resulted in a shot off target was about the only good opportunity they had early on.
It was a tale of two halves for Penn, though. After not recording a single shot, Penn came out firing in the third. Less than two minutes into the second half, Penn earned its first two penalty corners for the game. In the second corner, the Boston College crowd gasped as senior captain Elita Van Staden ripped a shot from the edge of the shooting circle, but was stopped by a diving save from Van Wiechen and clearance to keep the game scoreless.
Penn kept the pressure up in the third quarter and on its third penalty corner, finally broke the score open with a textbook set piece finished by sophomore Courtney Kenah for her second career goal. Penn outshot Boston College 7-0 in the third quarter, taking a 1-0 lead into the fourth.
“I thought we were playing well in the first half," coach Colleen Fink said of the team’s second half efforts. "However, that has to result in offensive threatening situations, and that’s where we were falling short. So I challenged them not to settle for just playing well and wish the goal to happen. You have to actually create and make the threatening attack happen. I think they knew that and they responded well, and we just need to continue to play that way."
Despite a dominant third quarter from the Red and Blue, the Eagles came back and responded in the fourth, regaining control of possession for most of the period. And after three quarters without taking a shot on target, an unassisted shot by Eagles’ junior forward Olivia Hahn found the back of the cage to equalize the game at one-a-piece.
The Penn crowd held its breath and Boston College parents cheered as the Eagles earned their second penalty corner of the game with two minutes left in regulation. The opportunity almost resulted in a game-winning goal for the Eagles, but that would be the last dangerous Boston College opportunity as the game went into overtime, tied at a score of 1-1.
The extended period was full of scoring opportunities for both sides, as both teams felt the pressure of the sudden-death overtime format. The Quakers stopped back-to-back penalty corners early on in the first overtime. A fast break opportunity for junior forward Lis Zandbergen — who battled through an injury in this game — had the Eagle crowd covering their eyes, but she was unable to finish the move.
Once again, in the second overtime period, both teams had a couple of opportunities to score, but neither was able to capitalize and finish the game. A save by Hayden off a penalty corner with under a minute left in the game was the last chance for either team to take the game as it headed to a decisive penalty shootout.
The first six shooters all made their shot as they went into the fourth penalty, tied at a score of 3-3. Van Staden was the first player to fail to convert a penalty, but Hayden made up for it immediately with a block on Boston College's Mia Garber. Penn and Boston College both failed to convert their fifth penalties, leading to a golden goal. After the Eagles converted their first penalty, freshman forward Livia Loozen, who converted the first penalty of the series, failed to replicate that first shot, and was stopped by Van Wiechen, leading to an explosion of cheers from the Boston College crowd and a heartbreaking ending for the Quakers.
“If we weren’t playing well, the conversation would be a lot tougher, but we are playing well and we are playing very tough," Fink said. “At the end of the day, in coaching, you can't freak out because you lost. Mistakes are gonna happen, but overall the team is playing really well. This is a good group. We just have to stay the course going forward."
Following Friday's game against Boston College, Penn had a day of rest before returning to Vagelos Field to face Villanova (4-1), where the team had one more shot to break its winless record.
It was a case of déjà vu for the Quakers, though, as Penn opened the scoring with a goal just past the 30-minute mark. The Wildcats then followed with two goals, putting the visiting squad in the driver's seat for the rest of the contest.
Still without a victory, the Red and Blue will look to right its record against its toughest opponent yet, No. 1 Northwestern (6-0), on Friday at Vagelos Field.