In Friday's semifinals of the Ivy League's inaugural field hockey postseason tournament, the Quakers suffered a 1-0 loss to No. 9 Harvard in Cambridge, Mass. The loss marked the conclusion of Penn's 2023 season, which saw them go 7-10 overall, and 5-2 against Ivy League opponents.
Coming into the match, in order to have a chance at victory, Penn would have to slow down the Crimson's high-powered offense. In the first half, the game went the way Penn had hoped, as it became a defensive struggle, with both teams unable to find the back of the net. In the first quarter, Harvard had the chance to take an early lead, firing a shot from the top of the circle, but the Quaker defensive line was able to deflect it.
In the second quarter the Crimson upped the intensity of their offensive attack, recording six more shot attempts. However, only one of those was on target, and senior goalkeeper Frederique Wollaert was able to save it and keep the game scoreless heading into the break.
Coming out of halftime, both teams performed much more evenly in the third quarter, recording a similar number of shot attempts. Unfortunately for the Red and Blue, one of those Harvard attempts ended up deciding the game. About eight minutes into the quarter, Wollaert deflected a Crimson cross from the left side of the circle. However, the ball was corralled by Harvard, and freshman midfielder Lara Beekhuis stuffed it into the bottom right corner of the net for the 1-0 advantage.
Penn had one final chance with just about ten minutes left in the match, when sophomore midfielder/defender Julia Ryan fired a shot onto the goal, but it was kicked away by the Harvard goalkeeper. From there on, the Crimson held onto their slim advantage while running out the clock, ending the game and Penn's conference season with it.
Offensively, the Quakers were outshot by the Crimson 11-3, including 3-2 on goal. Despite the loss, many encouraging takeaways came out of the game and season. Harvard was the seventh ranked opponent Penn faced this season, giving them one of the toughest schedules in the country. But even with the high strength-of-schedule, Wollaert was able to keep several high-powered opposing attacks in check, recording 93 saves and only allowing 1.83 goals per game along with an impressive 0.744 save percentage during the season.
Additionally, Penn's three players who recorded shots on Friday, Ryan, and junior midfielders Sophie Freedman and Meghan McGinley, will all return next year, giving the Red and Blue more valuable experience to build upon going forward.