PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Both teams did their part on Saturday. As a result, next Saturday has suddenly become big. Huge. Massive.
At Goldberger Field in Providence, the University of Pennsylvania field hockey team put away Brown, 4-0. At the same time, Princeton was dispatching Cornell by the exact same score at the Tigers' Bedford Field.
So now it comes down to this. Next Saturday at 11:30 a.m., Penn and Princeton will meet on the Quakers' new turf, Ellen Vagelos Field. (How new is the facility? So new that they are dedicating it next week.) Princeton is 6-0 in Ivy League play; Penn is 5-1. If the Tigers win, they are once again champions and move on to the postseason. If the Quakers win? They tie Princeton for the title; however, they also get the Ivy's postseason berth by virtue of winning the head-to-head clash.
It is heady stuff for Head Coach Colleen Fink's program, which was just 3-14 overall and 1-6 in Ivy play three short years ago, when she was in her first year leading the Quakers and the current seniors were freshmen. (That was followed by a 4-13 mark a year later.) At 13-3, Penn is one shy of the program record for wins in a season, set by the 1988 NCAA semifinalist team; after that, only the 2004 Ivy co-champions have reached 13 victories in the program's 41-year varsity history.
Penn needed a little bit of time to get started on Saturday, but once the Quakers did they could not be stopped. They outshot Brown 23-10, took 10 of the game's 14 corners, and forced Bears goalkeeper Shannon McSweeney to come up with seven saves (with help from two other defensive stops).
At the other end, Carly Sokach made six saves to collect her second straight Ivy League shutout and third this season (as well as the team's fifth overall in 2013). The junior has a 1.65 goals-against average and an .828 save percentage in league play.
Elizabeth Hitti got Penn on the board with just over 10 minutes left in the first half, scoring an unassisted goal from the right side of the circle. That was the only scoring in a back-and-forth half that saw the Quakers outshoot the Bears, 12-8, but in which Sokach make five of her six saves (McSweeney had just three).
Penn opened it up in the second half. Emily Corcoran netted her 13th goal of the season just 10:36 into the period, again unassisted, from in front of the cage. Jasmine Cole put it away just after the hour mark, scoring a pair of goals just 2:49 apart. Corcoran assisted the first of those goals -- her original shot was rebounded by Cole -- while Julie Tahan had an assist on the second.
Cole, a freshman who started the week leading the nation in goals per game, now has 18 on the season. That is second on Penn's single-season chart, two shy of the program record set by Liz Lorelli in 2003.
Brown fell to 6-9 overall, 1-5 in Ivy League play with the loss.