PHILADELPHIA - The University of Pennsylvania field hockey team is set to begin its 2008 campaign this weekend with two home matchups, one against St. Francis University on Friday night at 7:15 p.m. on Franklin Field and then Rutgers University on Saturday at 5 p.m. at Drexel’s Buckley Field.
Buckley Field is part of Drexel’s Vidas Field Complex and is located at 43rd and Powelton in Philadelphia. Click here for directions.
The Quakers arrived on campus in mid-August, and Head Coach Val Cloud believes they are ready to start their season. Even though the Quakers lost eight starters, Cloud still has great prospects for the season. “I am expecting this group to be very competitive. We went to Argentina [in the spring] and had the chance to work and learn how to play as a team.”
Penn will look to senior captains Meredith Moran and Margaretha Ehret to be the leaders on the team. Moran returns for her final season after starting 16 of Penn’s 17 games last year. She contributed assists in three important games. Ehret is the only Quaker returning who made All-Ivy last year, receiving second-team recognition. Ehret is also Penn’s top returning scorer, with five goals and six assists for a total of 16 points.
In addition, the team will look to senior goalie Alanna Butera to be a key to a successful season. Butera started all 17 games in 2007 which included eight wins and two shutout victories. Cloud believes that Butera is the key player on the field because of her experience and dedication. “She had a full season behind her and has gotten a lot of chances to makes saves and continue to learn the position.” said Cloud.
Butera will have a strong defense in front of her, led by juniors Kathryn Burke and Sarah Warner. The duo has played a combined 41 games for the Quakers. The defense is crucial to Quaker success.
“I like to start with solid defense that works the ball up and starts the rush,” Cloud said. “I think it is important to stop the ball first and work in transition.”
Other returning starters include senior forward Nina Ferrier and junior back Kathryn Rose. Rose was an honorable mention All-Ivy selection in 2006 and started all 17 games during the 2007 season for the Red and Blue.
In addition to the returning players, Cloud is excited by what she has seen from the freshmen during preseason.
“The freshmen will provide a lot of depth for us,” she said. “The forwards will get chance to show what they have right away, since we always need depth and a good second group up front.”
The Quakers will have a chance to showcase all their hard work this weekend. The first matchup is against St. Francis University. This is the first time the two teams will go head to head. Penn enters this game with a clean slate, and Cloud is hoping this game will start the season off right.
“We need to take what we have been learning the past few weeks and apply those skills to a big win against St. Francis.” she said.
The Red Flash comes to Franklin Field with a 0-1 record after a loss to Kent State last weekend.
Following the game on Friday night, the Red and Blue are back on the field to play Rutgers Saturday. The Quakers have played the Scarlet Knights 13 times and they have split the series 6-6-1., Cloud believes that a strong performance against St. Francis Friday will help bridge the confidence level for Saturday.
“We are looking to increase confidence that will carry through the weekend and a win against Rutgers,” she said.
Rutgers will arrive in Philadelphia with a 2-0 record with wins against Indiana and West Chester.
Live stats will be provided for both games at PennAthletics.com.