PHILADELPHIA - It may have been a damp, overcast day in Philadelphia on Wednesday, but it was plenty Sunny at Ellen Vagelos Field.
That would be Sunny Stirewalt, a senior forward on the University of Pennsylvania field hockey team. She scored twice against Villanova, once in the first half and again in the second, to propel the Quakers to a 2-1 win over their local rivals.
Penn has now beaten Villanova two years in a row after losing six straight to the Wildcats in a series that has been played every year since 1986. The Quakers are 12-3 on the season, while the ‘Cats fell to 3-12.
Stirewalt’s first goal came early in the game, and was pretty much all her. She drove the ball down the left side, rolled it into the circle from near the end line, and tucked a low-angle shot inside the near post that beat Villanova keeper Alex Diekmann to her right. The game wasn’t even two minutes old, and Penn was up 1-0.
Villanova struck back nearly 20 minutes later. A ball from Lauren Wilson was played into the circle, where Heather Smillie struck it toward goal. Carly Sokach deflected the ball high, but it continued toward the goal. Penn defenders swung away to clear but had no success, and the ball continued bouncing right into the goal. It was still a 1-1 game at halftime.
Penn dominated the second half, outshooting Villanova 8-1 in the period (13-4 for the game) and taking all six of the corners in the half (8-1 advantage for the game). That pressure paid off with just under 10 minutes left in regulation, when Stirewalt collected a loose ball in front and beat Diekmann for the second time on the day.
Sokach finished the game with a save, and was aided by a first-half defensive save from senior defender Amelia Cohen. At the other end, Diekmann had eight stops.
Penn has two Ivy League games still left on its schedule, starting Saturday when the Quakers are at Brown for a noon start. If the Quakers beat the Bears, their game with Princeton on Saturday, Nov. 9 will be for at least a share of the Ivy League title.