PHILADELPHIA - The 2011-12 Penn Athletics' season gets underway this Friday, September 2 at 5 p.m. as field hockey travels to our nation's capital to take on nationally-ranked American University. American (0-1) was ranked tenth in the nation in the inaugural NFHCA Poll and is coming off of a 4-1 defeat at the hands of No. 12 Old Dominion.
The Quakers' roster features eight players who started at least 14 of the team's 17 games from a season ago. With the advantage of full offseason to work with, head coach Colleen Fink and her staff brought eight freshmen into the fold who will look to make an immediate impact on the playing field.
Penn Athletics' season starts with field hockey: Field hockey will be the first Penn team in live game action this season. Men's soccer, women's soccer and volleyball will all get their seasons underway approximately two hours after field hockey gets started. Field hockey has, by far, the most traveling to do this weekend of the four teams in action. Volleyball and women's soccer start the season at home, while men's soccer is at La Salle Friday evening.
New Beginnings: Not only is this game the first contest of the Penn Athletics' season, it is also the first field hockey game between American and Penn in the history of the schools.
Tracking the Quakers: Fans unable to make the trip to Washington, D.C. this Friday will be able to follow the team through American University's EagleVision TV. The broadcast will feature a live scoreboard to go along with play-by-play and color commentary. Single event subscriptions are available for only $7.95.
Penn returnees: The Quakers return 12 letterwinners from last year's squad. Eight of those returning players started 10 or more games a year ago and will look to build on that experience from last year.
Year Two: Head Coach Colleen Fink and her assistant Katelyn O'Brien begin their second year together at Penn. This time around, the coaching staff will have the benefit of a full-year of experience as they were hired late in the spring of 2010. Fink and O'Brien both came to Penn from Haverford, where they previously held the same positions.
Team leaders: Seniors Caroline Olt and Abigail Egan have been selected as team captains for the 2011 season.
Previewing the Penn offense...
*The Quakers return five players in the attack and midfield who saw action in all 17 games last season, but will have to deal with the losses of graduated seniors Laurel McGarvie and Annie Matthews.
*Senior Kirstin Snyder started all 17 games a year ago and tied for the team lead with three goals and one assist.
*Sophomore Julie Tahan played in all 17 games, starting 15 as a freshman. She scored three goals and assisted on another.
*Junior Sarah Hasson played in all 17 games, starting 16. She scored twice and had a team-high three assists.
*Sophomore Sunny Stirewalt and junior Kyle deSandes-Moyer each scored two goals last season. Stirewalt played all 17 games and started 14, while deSandes-Moyer provided a much-needed spark off the bench in her appearances.
*Caroline Olt had a goal and assist last season starting all 17 games, while Abigail Egan provided two assists off the bench.
*Senior Erin Healy saw time in every game, starting 15 and managed two shots from the midfield in 2010.
Previewing the Penn defense...
*Senior Kieran Sweeney saw action in 10 games, starting seven in goal last season. She posted the Quakers only shutout last season against William & Mary.
*In addition to her offensive presence, Caroline Olt led the team with two defensive saves in 2010. Her sister, sophomore Olivia Olt, also saw limited game action in the back last year.
*Amelia Cohen started 16 games last season for the Quakers and made one defensive save.
*Mandy Epstein is one of seven returning Quakers to see action in 17 games last season. She started 16 of those contests.
*Sophomore Katie Harrington was a contributor to both sides of the ball in 2010 playing in the midfield. She played in 16 games, starting nine in her freshman campaign.
Fresh Faces at Penn...
*Eight newcomers join the young squad in 2011.
*Allison Weisenfels, Camille Parry and Emily Corcoran will try and add some scoring to the Penn attack.
*Helene Caniglia, Katherine Cook and Alex Iqbal join a midfield that features several returning starters.
*MaryRose Croddick will look to add some depth in the defense, while Carly Sokach gives Penn another option at goalie.
*The Eagles were ranked 10th in the country in the inaugural NFHCA Poll and were the top-ranked team in the Patriot League.
*American (0-1) lost 4-1 against No. 12 Old Dominion in the team's opener.
*Gina Hoffman scored the lone goal in that game for American. In addition to the goal, she had four shots which was also a team high.
*In addition to Hoffman, Tatum Dyer and Shelly Montgomery earned all-region honors last season.
*Stephanie Burry started and played 46:05 in goal in that first game, but Ashley Dalisera closed out the remaining 23:55 and did not face a shot in that time.
After American: After the game with American, field hockey will have a full week before it gets into action at Towson next Friday.