PHILADELPHIA After a two-week layoff, Penn returned to field hockey action on Saturday when it hosted Dartmouth at Franklin Field. Penn responded with its most dominating effort of the season, emerging with a 5-1 victory over the Big Green. With the win, Penn moves to 3-4 on the season, and 2-1 in Ivy League play. Dartmouth falls to 2-5 and 2-1 in Ivy action.
The rust from two weeks off from game action showed early for Penn as it struggled to get the ball out of its own end for the first five minutes of the game. The Quakers were opportunistic, however, capitalizing on their first chance of the game.
Aggressive play by Penn in the offensive circle drew a penalty corner. Meredith Moran started the play with a perfect insertion to Meghan Rose. Rose set the ball for Margaretha Ehret who wasted no time in firing a shot on goal. The shot changed direction off of a Dartmouth defender and found its way to the back of the net, giving Penn a 1-0 lead.
The goal; energized the Quakers who kept pressure on the Big Green. At the 10:28 mark, Rachel Eng deked past a defender and found herself on a two-on-one with teammate Nicole Black against Dartmouth goalie Jordan Sedlacek. A head-fake and a pass later, Black had the ball on her stick and was staring at an open net. She did not hesitate and provided Penn a 2-0 lead.
The two quick goals forced Dartmouth to take a timeout to regroup. The strategy did not payoff as Penn maintained the advantage and extended its lead to 3-0 18 minutes into the game. Melissa Black stepped up from her defensive position and gathered the ball in the circle. There, she found Nicole Black alone again in front of the net. It was the second goal of the game for Nicole.
The second half started out with a goalkeeper change for Dartmouth as Ashley Heist took over in net. She was quickly challenged twenty seconds into the half, but she turned away the Quaker shot.
Heist was not successful on her second chance. Meghan Rose found open space and created her own opportunity, which she converted for her first goal of the season and a 4-0 Penn lead.
Less than two minutes later, Dartmouth had a penalty corner attempt. The Big Green made the most of their chance as Whitney Waugh took a Virginia Peisch pass and shot it past Penn goalkeeper Alanna Butera.
The game did not stay 4-1 for long. It took just 31 seconds for Penn to answer on a Jamie Calahan goal. Moran added her second assist of the game as the Quakers extended their lead back to 4 goals, 5-1.
Penn is now on a three-game winning streak. During the streak, the Quakers have outscored their opponents 9-3.
Butera, who finished with five saves against Dartmouth, credits a regrouped team effort over the last two weeks to turning around the team’s season.
“We are clicking now,” she said, “We are starting our offense with our defense. Our play up the sides of the field has been strong and we are beginning to sense where each other will be.”
Head coach Val Cloud feels that Butera, herself, has been extremely important to the revitalized Quakers.
“Alanna is more confident and aggressive now,” she said, “She is definitely settling in. This season has been a big step for her. As a goalie, she is under tremendous pressure, and she is starting to produce.”
Butera, who is in her first season as starting goalkeeper for Penn, has stopped 13 of 16 shots during the streak including a shutout against Lafayette. She credits her interaction with teammates on the field for her success.
“Communication is key for me,” she said, “I need to talk to my defense and let them know where they need to be. If I can help them mark their players, it helps to clean up the circle.”
Penn’s next game is on Wednesday when Villanova travels down the Main Line to Franklin Field. The game starts at 7:15 p.m.