Before the Penn field hockey team stepped onto Franklin Field this season, they knew the 2004 campaign was going to be a special one. Led by senior tri-captains Kate Murphy, Sara Shelley and Bernice Raveche, the Quakers wrote their names in the Penn history books en route to capturing their first Ivy League title in 11 years.
In September the Red and Blue were a group of talented student-athletes who all believed they could be Ivy League champions. By November, they proved to themselves and the field hockey world that hard work, determination and playing together as one, you can accomplish your goals and so much more.
Exactly what did the Quakers accomplish in 2004?
The Quakers had the second-most wins in school history (13) and the most since 1988, the first Ivy League Rookie of the Year in 19 years in Melissa Black, a top-notch goalie in Elizabeth Schlossberg and a defense that ranked sixth in the nation with a scoring defense of .860. The Red and Blue set a school record with six-straight shutouts and ended the season with an eight-game winning streak tying the program record for consecutive wins. Finally, the Red and Blue defeated Princeton for the first time in 10 years and earned a share of the Ancient Eight crown.
How did it all start?
The Quakers had a rough start to the 2004 campaign with two non-conference games at William & Mary and Virginia Commonwealth. Penn played tough against two of the top teams in the Colonial Athletic Association, but without the freshmen, who were back at Penn for student orientation, the team was not complete and lost both contests, 2-0 and 3-1, respectively. Lorelli scored the Red and Blue’s lone goal of the weekend while Schlossberg made 11 saves.
The tide began to turn for the Quakers when they defeated Philly City Six rival Saint Joseph’s, 2-1 in overtime on Franklin Field. The Red and Blue held the Hawks to five shots, while juniors Cara Calahan and Lea Salese tallied goals.
Penn held their head high heading into the Ivy opener against Harvard on Sept. 11. A tough defensive battle brewed in the first period, but the Crimson broke through in the second stanza and scored three goals in 14 minutes to go up 3-0. Junior Kristen Gray scored her first goal of the season on a penalty corner from Calahan to prevent the shutout.
The Red and Blue bounced back and won the next four games. The winning streak started with victories against Lafayette (1-0) and Cornell (2-1). Penn recorded its first shutout of the season over the Leopards and Shelley scored her first collegiate goal in overtime to give Penn its first Ivy win of the season over the Big Red. Rutgers were the next in line to fall to the Quakers as Penn banged out three goals and held the Scarlet Knights to only four shots in the game. The biggest of all four wins was a 2-1 victory over No. 14 Delaware Penn’s first victory over a ranked opponent. The Quakers’ played like a cohesive unit and dominated the Blue Hens on both ends of the field. Salese scored the game-winning goal and Shelley added a goal and an assist in the winning effort. Black was named Ivy League Rookie of the Week for her outstanding play in the backfield.
A defensive battle ensued in the Quakers’ next game as they traveled to Villanova to face the Wildcats. The Penn offense struggled to find the cage, but the defense proved strong as Schlossberg made 10 saves, including two penalty stroke opportunities by Nova. But Rory Rogers’ goal late in the second half proved to be the difference as the Wildcats went on to win 1-0.
Penn bounced back fast and went on to win their final eight contests of the season. The first victory in that record setting string came against the Big Green of Dartmouth, who were tied for first in the League. Calahan scored two goals including the game-winning tally in overtime to give Penn its second Ivy win of the season and earn Ivy League Player of the Week honors. Junior Kelly McFadden stepped up on defense with one of her five defensive saves of the season.
In the Red and Blue’s next six contests, no team was able to get the ball into the net. The Penn defense, which skyrocketed to the top-five in the nation in scoring defense did not allow many opportunities to score and if a ball got through the “Penn wall,” Schlossberg was there to swat it away. The Red and Blue outscored their opponents 13-0 in that stretch. Lorelli banged out six goals, while Salese, sophomore Tracy Statter and senior Jessica Kaylor each added two and Calahan added the game-winning tally against Drexel.
Everything game down to the Red and Blue’s final game at Princeton. With desire in their hearts and will to win in their hands, the Quakers fought hard and laid everything on the line to bring home a 2-1 victory.
Not only did the Red and Blue bring home a share of the Ivy League trophy, but the Penn field hockey team was the only squad in the league with three first-team honorees. Lorelli was a unanimous first-team selection for the second-consecutive year, while Schlossberg received her first conference honors earning a unanimous first-team selection as well. Joining Lorelli and Schlossberg on the first-team was Salese, while Black was named to the second-team and received Rookie of the Year honors.
The Quakers finished the season ranked 20th in the womensfieldhockey.com poll and received votes for the seventh-consecutive week in the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) poll. Not only did the Penn defense finish the season sixth in the nation in scoring defense, but Schlossberg ranked third in save percentage (0.828) and sixth in goals against average (0.890).
At the beginning of the season, the Penn field hockey team sat down and wrote out a set of goals for the year. As the season went on the Quakers were able to cross off the goals they accomplished and at seasons end, the Red and Blue had done everything they hoped to do in 2004.