Carly Sokach knows what it takes to bring home hardware on the pitch.
And although she spends most of her time in the cage, she’ll also be spending time dusting off a few more achievements.
Sokach, a two-time field hockey state champion at Wyoming Seminary, has spent the last three years at the University of Pennsylvania. And this year was a fine one.
Sokach was named the All-Ivy League first team as a goalkeeper for the 2013 season. She adds this achievement to her two Ivy League Player of the Week recognitions earlier this season.
“It was really exciting hearing the news,” Sokach said. “It was unexpected. It’s a testament to how hard I worked this past off season and it all came together well. My defense played great and it was a collaboration of that.”
This was Sokach’s second full season in the cage for Penn. In her freshman year, she played in three games and allowed 11 goals. Since then, she’s been a rock for the Quakers.
Sokach started all 17 games in goal and played 1,200-plus minutes in 2013. She also started all 17 games as a sophomore in 2012. This past season, she finished 13th in the nation and second in the Ivy League in save percentage (.776) and saves per game (7.12).
The West Pittston native recorded five shutouts this season and had seven games with double-digit saves. Sokach tied her career-high of saves in a game with 15 against Yale.
The Quaker also finished the season sixth in the nation in win-loss percentage, and 12th in save percentage. This was Sokach’s first All-Ivy selection.
The Yale game would go down as Sokach’s biggest game. She didn’t allow a goal through regulation and two overtimes of a 0-0 tie. The game then went to penalties, and Sokach stopped the Bulldogs’ first three attempts before allowing a goal on the fourth attempt.
On the fifth attempt, with Yale hoping to extend the penalties, Sokach was called for a trip on the Yale attacker, who was given a penalty stroke. Sokach then saved the stroke to give Penn the victory.
Sokach explained that as a goalkeeper, you’re never the hero of the game. It’s always someone else that scores the winning goal, or the goalkeeper allows the losing goal. But that wasn’t the case in the Yale game this year.
“I felt that two times in my career where I contributed the same way scoring does,” she said. “That Yale game was definitely one of them. I don’t think anyone on our team thought we were going to lose. Stuff just happens and you trust your instincts and it pays off.”
The Quakers (13-4, 5-2) finished the year second in the Ivy League, with a chance to win the Ivy League title in their final game, while posting the most overall wins since 2004. Penn lost to Princeton, 5-1, in the title game this season.
So it seems like the emergence of Sokach has led to a flurry of wins for the Quakers.
“Making the leap from barely being over .500 to what we did this year is really awesome,” she said. “Getting that winning feeling back at Penn field hockey is something we needed. We needed a season like this to show how far we’ve come and the strides we’ve been able to make.”
Sokach, a four-year varsity letter winner and starter in goal for Wyoming Seminary, was a member of the 2008 and 2010 state AA championship teams. A member of the 2010 Academic All-State, she was also named to the and the 2010 Academic All-American Squad.
She helped lead the Blue Knights to a 20-1 record in 2009 and a 26-2 record in 2010. Her 2010 records at Sem include 10 games in which she was not scored upon, two of which were in the state playoffs, and a total save percentage of 85.1 percent.
“Sem was an amazing experience for me from both academically and from an on-field standpoint,” she said. “I came from a very winning program up there. And now, I play several games throughout the season where I am playing against former teammates which is awesome. It adds another dimension.”
Sokach is the daughter of Stephen and Jeriann Sokach of West Pittston. She is double majoring in Biology and Classical Studies with aspirations of being a doctor.
“It’s very hard (juggling athletics and academics),” Sokach said. “I don’t have the luxury that most college students have. It’s a balancing act and it’s a game of time management.”