PHILADELPHIA – Following a dramatic, 5-4 win at Lehigh to open the 2013 season, the University of Pennsylvania field hockey team is in action twice this weekend. The Quakers are at Saint Joseph’s Friday at 3:30 p.m., and at Bucknell Sunday at 1 p.m.
A Sort of Homecoming
Penn’s game at Saint Joseph’s has become a big one on the schedule, and not just because it’s a city game. SJU is also Penn head coach Colleen Fink’s alma mater, as well as the alma mater of assistant coach Katelyn O’Brien.
Bucknell’s head coach is Jeremy Cook, who was an assistant coach here at Penn under Val Cloud.
Vagelos Field Update
The first home games won’t happen until next weekend, of course, but the Quakers got to put their sticks, balls and shoes on the field for the first time this week as they began practicing there. Exciting times for the program!
The Series with Saint Joseph’s
The Quakers lead the Hawks, 11-7, and have taken two of the last three meetings between these teams. Penn and Saint Joseph’s did not play last year; in 2011, SJU gained a 3-1 victory on Hawk Hill.
The Hawks (0-4) have struggled in the early going, and are still looking for their first win. Three of the losses have come by a goal, most recently an epic, 3-2 loss to Fairfield that came in triple overtime. Four women have scored this season for SJU: Nicole Gerdes, Sarah Yerk, Shannon McNeill and Eva Gekas. Marin Vreeburg has a team-high two assists. In goal, Rachel Barnett has played every minute and holds a 2.26 goals-against average as well as a .787 save percentage.
The Series with Bucknell
The Quakers and the Bison have met just twice in field hockey, with Penn winning both contests. The most recent meeting took place in 2007 and was a 2-0 win in Lewisburg. The other meeting came in 1999 in Philadelphia and was won by the Quakers, 4-1.
The Bison (2-2) enter the weekend on a two-game win streak; they are at Drexel Friday, before hosting Penn on Sunday. Leigh Hillman scored twice in Bucknell’s win over Ohio State last weekend and was honored as the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week; she has a team-high seven points. Vickie Resh had the winner against the Buckeyes.
*After losing three straight season openers from 2009-11, Penn has now won its season opener each of the last two years.
*The Quakers matched their goal total from last year’s season opener, also against Lehigh, in Friday’s win in Bethlehem. It was also the highest-scoring game Penn had played in almost exactly a year, since a 5-4 win over Liberty last September 8.
*The goal scoring should not come as a surprise, since Penn tied the program record for goals in a season last year with 42.
*What was good to see was five different women scoring the five goals last weekend, including two freshmen playing their first collegiate games. Elise Tilton scored the Quakers’ first goal of 2013, while Jasmine Cole had a goal and got off four shots in the game. A third freshman, Katelynn Mudgett, started for the Quakers.
*Sophomore Elizabeth Hitti and junior Emily Corcoran each had a goal and an assist in the contest. Hitti’s goal, of course, was the big one -- it came after the clock had expired, off a Penn penalty corner, and gave the Quakers the victory.
*Carly Sokach was in goal last Friday, as she was for every game last season. She had a 2.92 goals-against average in 2012, and a .705 save percentage. Sokach made four stops against the Mountain Hawks last Friday.
*Senior Julie Tahan -- who had Penn’s other goal last Friday -- 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 its next three games, inaugurating Ellen Vagelos Field. The first game takes place on Saturday, Sept. 21, an Ivy League contest against Cornell. The next day, Penn hosts Pacific. (Both of those games are scheduled to start at noon.) On Wednesday, Sept. 25, the Red and Blue will entertain city foe La Salle at 4 p.m.