PHILADELPHIA – The time has finally arrived. The University of Pennsylvania field hockey team hosts its first two games on its new Astroturf field, the Ellen Vagelos Field. The Quakers host Ivy League foe Cornell on Saturday, before Pacific University comes calling on Sunday. Both matches are scheduled to start at noon.
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The Series with Cornell
The Quakers lead the series, 21-13-2, but the Big Red have won six of the last eight meetings. That includes last year in Ithaca, when Cornell scored all of its goals in the first half en route to a 4-0 victory. Penn won two years ago here in Philadelphia, 1-0. The Red and Blue are 11-5-1 all-time at home against Cornell; all of those games, of course, came on Franklin Field.
The Big Red (2-2) have won two in a row. Hannah Balleza -- who is third on Cornell’s all-time list with 33 goals, and was a unanimous first-team All-Ivy pick last year -- has three goals along with Katherine Stone and Georgia Lord. Katy Weeks has three points (1g, 1a). At the other end, Carolyn Homer was a first-team All-Ivy pick a year ago; she has a 1.90 goals-against average and a .742 save percentage. Sophomore Marisa Siergiej was a second-team All-Ivy selection last year.
The Series with Pacific
The Quakers and the Tigers are meeting for the third time, but the first time since 2000. Penn won the first two matchups, taking a 5-1 decision over Pacific in 1998 here in Philadelphia, then beat the Tigers 4-0 two years later in a neutral-site matchup.
Under head coach Andy Smith, a former assistant coach at Ivy rival Dartmouth, the Tigers (0-4) are embarking on an ambitious trip to Philadelphia. In fact, their game with Penn will be the fourth in four days -- prior to that, they play Thursday at Saint Joseph’s, Friday at La Salle, and Saturday against Saint Francis (Pa.). Emily Traegoning has three points to lead Pacific (1g, 1a), while Katharine Egan, Maggie Grindatti, Nicole Laskosky and Melissa Maultsby have also scored.
*After losing three straight season openers from 2009-11, Penn has now won its season opener each of the last two years.
*The Quakers scored 10 goals in their first two games, with five against Lehigh and another five at Saint Joseph’s. The last time Penn had 10 goals after two games? Try 1989 (4-0 win at Villanova, 6-0 win against Cornell).
*The goal scoring should not come as a surprise, since Penn tied the program record for goals in a season last year with 42.
*Freshman Jasmine Cole recorded a hat trick in Friday’s win at Saint Joseph’s, giving her four goals so far this season which leads the Quakers. Another freshman, Elise Tilton, has scored in every game this season and has three goals which is second.
*What was good to see in Penn’s season opener at Lehigh was five different women scoring the five goals.
*Junior Emily Corcoran had a goal and an assist in Penn’s season opener, then added another goal last Friday at Saint Joseph’s. She is third on the team with her five points.
*Senior Julie Tahan and sophomore Elizabeth Hitti have three points each, with a goal and an assist. Hitti’s goal, of course, was a big one -- it came after the clock had expired, off a Penn penalty corner, and gave the Quakers the 5-4 victory at Lehigh.
*Carly Sokach has played every minute in goal this season; she was simply magnificent at Bucknell on Sunday, making 11 saves to keep Penn in the game (the Quakers lost to the Bison, 2-1). Sokach has a 2.67 goals-against average and a .733 save percentage.
*Tahan and junior defender MaryRose Croddick were second-team All-Ivy players a year ago; both are back this season. Hitti, meanwhile, received honorable mention despite being a freshman. The team also welcomes back junior Alex Iqbal, who was an All-Ivy honoree in 2011 as a freshman but missed all of last year due to injury.
Penn is home for a third straight time on Wednesday, hosting city foe La Salle at 4 p.m. On Saturday, the Quakers are at Harvard for their second Ivy League game of the season.