PHILADELPHIA – Off to its best start since 1993 at 6-1, the University of Pennsylvania field hockey team is looking for the best start in program history. That can be accomplished Wednesday afternoon, when the Quakers host regional rival Lafayette. The Quakers and Leopards will face off at 4 p.m. on the new Ellen Vagelos Field.
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The Series with Lafayette
The Quakers and the Leopards have met 39 times previously, with Penn holding a narrow 17-16-6 lead in the series. That said, Lafayette has won the last five meetings, including a 5-2 decision last year in Easton. Penn’s most recent win came in 2007, the last of four in a row won by the Quakers over the ‘Pards.
The Leopards (3-6) snapped a three-game losing streak on Saturday with a 4-1 win over rival Lehigh, but then fell to Rutgers on Sunday. Four of Lafayette’s six losses have come to ranked teams. Brittany Blass has a team-leading eight points (3g, 2a), while Hanna Sotiropoulos also has three goals. Kelsey Mead, Haley Keenan and Kristin Heaney have all scored twice. In goal, Jessica Deutsch has a 2.44 goals-against average and a .607 save percentage.
*At 6-1, Penn is off to its best start since the 1993 team was also 6-1. If the Quakers beat Lafayette, they will be 7-1 for the first time in program history. (Penn’s 1992 and 1994 teams were both 6-1-1 after eight games.)
*Penn is also 2-0 in Ivy League play for the first time since 2001.
*Last year the Quakers tied a program record for goals in a season, with 42. They are well on their way toward giving that mark a run this year, with 26 goals in their first seven games.
*The story this week has been junior goalkeeper Carly Sokach, who was named Ivy League Player of the Week on Tuesday after her 12-save shutout at Harvard on Saturday.
*It was Sokach’s third double-figure save total this season; she also had 11 in a 2-1 loss at Bucknell, and 12 in a 4-3 win against Cornell.
*Sokach has a .797 save percentage and a 1.86 goals-against average for the season. In the last five games, however, the save percentage is up (.851) while the GAA is down (1.40).
*Freshman Jasmine Cole already has two hat tricks in her collegiate career; it took her four games to do it. The first one came at Saint Joseph’s, and the second one came in her Ivy League debut against Cornell.
*Cole -- who leads Penn and the Ivy League with nine goals this season -- was named the co-Ivy League Player of the Week and the Ivy League Rookie of the Week on Sept. 24, primarily on the strength of her performance against the Big Red.
*Junior Emily Corcoran has also been on fire, with two goals against Pacific and La Salle last week. (She put eight shots on goal against the Explorers last Wednesday.) Corcoran has seven goals and three assists for 17 points, one behind Cole.
*Another freshman, Elise Tilton, scored twice in a 23-second span last Sunday vs. Pacific; she is third on the team with five goals.
*Sophomore Elizabeth Hitti, who scored the goal in Penn’s 1-0 win at Harvard -- providing a nice homecoming for the Massachusetts resident -- now has eight points on the season (3g, 2a). Senior Julie Tahan is right behind her with seven points (2g, 3a).
*It was good to see junior Alex Iqbal get on the score sheet against Pacific; she assisted on a goal for her first point of 2013. Iqbal was an All-Ivy performer as a freshman, but missed all of last year due to an injury.
*Junior defender MaryRose Croddick also gained her first point of 2013, with an assist against Cornell, while senior Sunny Stirewalt had her second point of the season, an assist, against Pacific.
*Tahan and 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 Iqbal, who was an All-Ivy honoree in 2011 as a freshman but missed all of last year due to injury.
*Tahan and Iqbal are this year’s captains. In addition to Tahan, the other seniors are Stirewalt, Amelia Cohen and Katie Harrington.
Penn remains at home, hosting Ivy League rival Dartmouth on Sunday at the new Ellen Vagelos Field. Faceoff is slated for 11 a.m.