Field hockey continues quick start with win over Penn

by Taylor Malmsheimer | 10/2/11 10:00pm

With its undefeated Ivy League record on the line and facing an unfamiliar playing surface, the Dartmouth field hockey team maintained its poise on Saturday afternoon, overcoming a one-point halftime deficit to defeat the University of Pennsylvania, 4-2.

Penn (2-7, 1-2 Ivy) began the game with intensity, recording the first two shots of the contest. The second shot paid off, as junior Sarah Hasson scored on a hard drive in the ninth minute of the game, assisted by sophomore Julie Tahan.

Although down early, the Big Green (7-3, 3-0 Ivy) continued to play with determination, co-captain Kerry Bracco '11 said.

"We've come from behind in a few of our last games," Bracco said. "We knew we could come back. We stayed focused and played our game."

Less than two minutes later, two-time League Rookie of the Week Ali Savage '15 tied the game with her eighth goal of the season on a push from the stroke line.

After the two quick goals, both offenses hit roadblocks as Dartmouth goalie Meagan Vakiener '12 and Penn senior goalie Kieran Sweeney made several saves.

Penn capitalized on a penalty corner in the last minute of the half, however, taking a one-goal advantage. Tahan scored her third goal of the season, assisted by freshman Helene Caniglia.

Co-captain Kelly Hood '12 said the Big Green regrouped at the halftime break, deciding to come out with a vengeance in the final 30 minutes of the game.

"We made a few changes in our midfield and also in our back field," Hood said. "We used the first half to get used to the different surface, which we knew would happen."

The Big Green played with energy after halftime, with five shots coming in the first 11 minutes of the second half.

"For a significant part of the second half, we kept the ball in their end," Bracco said.

The team's intensity paid off when the Big Green was awarded its first penalty stroke of the season. Liz Blanken '13 capitalized on the opportunity, scoring her first goal of the season and tying the game at two goals apiece.

In the 51st minute of play, Meghan Everett '12 finally put Dartmouth ahead on the scoreboard, 3-2, with her sixth goal of the season on an assist from Olivia Quaglia '14.

Playing with a lead for the first time in the game, the Big Green stepped up its defensive pressure, limiting Penn to just two more shots. With less than three minutes left in the game, Lisa Masini '13 the League's assist leader sealed the game by lifting the ball into the top-left corner of the goal for her sixth goal of the season.

The Big Green outshot Penn overall, 16-9. Vakiener finished the game with five saves, while Sweeney recorded seven saves in the loss.

Bracco said the Big Green benefited from a cohesive, well-rounded performance.

"I think it was a really good team effort and everyone played hard and worked well together," she said. "It was great that four different people scored."

Before the game, players were concerned about the difference between Penn's field turf and the astroturf on which Dartmouth normally plays. The team practiced on the lacrosse field on Thursday and Friday in order to prepare for the new surface.

The preparation paid off, as the Big Green did not seem affected by the unfamiliar conditions.

"Playing on a different surface forced us to work smarter," Hood said. "We didn't look at it as a negative and didn't let it get to us."

Dartmouth plays next on Friday at 3 p.m., when it faces a strong Boston University team at home. Boston University (5-4) is currently ranked 18th in the nation and has not yet lost against a non-ranked team.

Bracco said Big Green players will not let the challenge faze them as they practice this week.

"We scout and prepare for every team so we're going to go into this game the same way," she said.

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