There is an aura of excitement around the Penn field hockey team heading into the 2004 season. With unexpected success in 2003, the Quakers, led by All-American Liz Lorelli, will look to improve upon last fall's record-setting season. An inexperienced team in 2003 proved that hard work, dedication, commitment and team chemistry can go a long way. After flirting with the NFHCA top-20 for several weeks, the Quakers finished the season ranked 30th by BRP's ratings.com. The Red and Blue won 10 games, including seven in a row, and won the Philly City 6 title en route to their best record since 1997.
Tri-captains Bernice Ravache, Sara Shelley and Kate Murphy will lead the Red and Blue onto the newly renovated Franklin Field in the fall with hopes of continuing with last season's success.
"The girls are really excited for the fall," Head Coach Val Cloud said. "After a very successful spring campaign, the girls are ready to attack the 2004 season. With the commitment, desire and leadership of the captains, we will be looking to achieve new levels of success on the field."
The Quakers will be a team with a lot of depth this season. Penn returns five of the six top scorers from last season including Lorelli and second-team All-Ivy selection Lea Salese. Nine starters return to Franklin Field while seven other Quakers, who played in at least three games each last season, will be back.
"Besides the tremendous about of depth we will have this season, several of our student-athletes participated on summer league teams and the junior national team throughout the summer months," Cloud added. "This experience definitely boosts a player's game and allows the girls to come back ready to play during the preseason, instead of trying to get back into shape.
Lorelli is coming of a record breaking season in 2003. The product of Greenwich, Conn. broke the single-season school record for goals (20) and points (43). She scored in 15 of 18 games during her junior campaign and currently stands third all-time in goals and fifth in points in the Penn archives. The mechanical engineer and applied mechanics major was among one of the best scorers in the country last season as she ranked 11th among Division I student-athletes in goals scored and fifth in goals per game (1.111). She became only the eighth student-athlete in Penn field hockey history to garner All-American honors and the first since Sue Quinn in 1995, when she was named third-team STX/NFHCA All-American.
"Liz is coming back from a record setting performance last season. We will look for her to score goals and be a leader on the attack," Cloud said.
Junior Cara Calahan, who was second on the team in points last season, will look to improve upon her seven goals and three assists in 2004.
"Calahan has a knack for scoring in the circle and could take her game to the next level and create several scoring opportunities on attack," Cloud added.
During the spring campaign, sophomore Tracy Statter saw plenty of action on attack and proved she can be a threat in front of the cage as well. "Tracy's true ability came out this spring. She has a great sense of the game and will provide a spark on the attack."
Kristen Connelly should see action on attack as well. “She has good speed with the ball and has a tendency to be in the right spot to score,” Cloud said.
Newcomers Andrea Rocky and Kara Bolger will provide depth on the attack.
A trio of returning starters will lead the midfield in Salese, Shelley and junior Kristen Gray. Senior Sam Somach and sophomore Nyssa Liebermann will play key roles in the transition as well.
The threesome combined for four goals and 19 assists in 2003. Salese was third on the team in scoring with two goals and six assists last season, Shelley was fourth with nine assists, including a school-record tying three assists against Columbia, while Gray added two tallies and four helpers.
"Lea has great quickness and speed which will make her a threat on attack," Cloud said. "Also in the midfield will be Kristen (Gray) who gets better and better each season. She can see the field and knows what's happening around her. She makes great offensive plays and will be the number one striker on corners. Shelley has very offensive mind in the midfield and will play an intricate role with her good passing skills and great game sense."
Rookies Nicole Black, Jamie Calahan, Nicole Levi and Megan Rose will prove depth in the midfield.
Murphy, Kelly McFadden and Bernice Ravache return to lead a defense which ranked 19th in the nation last season, allowing only 1.55 goals per game. Last season Ravache came up with a key defensive save in Penn's battle with No. 11 Princeton.
"Bernice will be our organizer in the back this season," Cloud added. "She is a great communicator and comes up with big plays. Our other captain, Kate, is a solid defender with a determination to stop the ball."
After a season ending knee injury last season, senior Jess Kaylor should be back in the starting line-up on defense as well.
After several appearances as a freshman, Melina Tsui will see significant time in 2004. "Melina is extremely quick and intelligent on the field. She is a step ahead of every move and can anticipate very well."
Junior Jackie Schottenstien along with newcomers Melissa Black and Kelsey Nickles, will see action as reserves.
Sophomore Elizabeth Schlossberg and junior Amanda Jacobs will return to guard the Quakers goal in 2004. Schlossberg is the backbone of the Red and Blue defense. After starting in 10 games and seeing action in 15 contests last season, the Chevy Chase, Md. native will only improve as she gets more comfortable in front of the net. Jacobs, who started every game as a freshman, is a solid backup for Penn. Jacobs started eight of nine contest last fall.
The 2004 edition of the Penn field hockey team is entering the upcoming season with a sense of confidence and a feeling of excitement. These elements, combined with a strong team chemistry, should make for a fun 2004 season.
Written by Heather Palmer, associate director of athletic communications.