The Cornell field hockey team (10-5, 4-2 Ivy) fell twice this weekend at home: 3-2 to No. 6 Princeton (12-4, 6-0 Ivy) on Saturday afternoon, and 2-1 to Villanova (7-10, 2-4 Big East) on Sunday afternoon. Nine of the Red’s 15 games this season have now been decided by one goal. The Cornell has won six of them and lost three.
The team’s five-game winning streak came to a screeching halt Saturday afternoon even though Cornell played one of its best games of the season against perennial league champion Princeton. A win would have placed the Red in a three-way tie with the Tigers and the Yale Bulldogs atop the Ivy standings and given the team a shot at the conference title.
The momentousness of the game was evident from the outset as both the crowd and the Red bench were extremely vocal to start off. A motivated Cornell starting squad played aggressively to begin. At just under two minutes into the contest, senior attack Catie De Stio got off three shots on goal within seconds of each other, none of which found the back of the net. Meanwhile, a tight defense limited the top-ranked Tigers offense to only two shots in the first 15 minutes.
However, in the 17th minute, Princeton’s Kathleen Sharkey converted the Tigers’ first goal on their first penalty corner of the game. Sharkey, the nation’s leading goal-scorer, converted the Tigers’ second goal just over two minutes later on a disputed penalty corner call. Princeton added another goal almost 10 minutes into the second half to give the Tigers a dominating 3-0 lead.
The score remained the same late into the second half. Inside of six minutes to go in the game, De Stio finally put the Red on the board, scoring a goal off of a rebound of a shot that had been saved by Princeton’s goalkeeper Jennifer King. The goal was a tremendous shot of energy for the team.
“It really helps open up the game a little bit more when you know someone on your team has scored. You feel more motivated to get the ball and score also,” De Stio said.
That tendency proved true a few minutes later as senior captain and midfielder Kate Thompson shot a rocket between King’s legs to bring the Red to within one of forcing the game into overtime with just over a minute left. The ecstatic crowd attempted to will the suddenly energized Red squad to another goal, which ultimately wouldn’t come. Despite the loss, the team appeared upbeat in the post-game huddle and head coach Donna Hornibrook spoke proudly about her team’s comeback effort.
“I think it’s indicative of the type of team we have,” she said. “We have a team that doesn’t quit ever. It’s characteristic of what we’ve had all season.”
Despite getting its Ivy League title hopes dashed, an upbeat team looked to bounce back against a tough Villanova team the following day in its final non-conference game of the season. The first half ended in a scoreless tie. It would remain that way until 13 minutes into the second half when Villanova’s Meredith Sabatini put the Wildcats up, 1-0. The Wildcats would add another goal with just under seven minutes to go in the game.
Once again, Cornell was facing a multiple goal deficit with only a few minutes to go in the game. And once again, a late goal –– this one with just under four minutes to go in the game –– would fall courtesy of De Stio, to put the Red within one. Cornell’s never-quit attitude is something that should be duly noted. When asked about how the team is able to stay motivated late in games despite being down, freshman attack Hannah Balleza explained that everyone does a really good job of staying positive, no matter the score.
Despite a valiant effort in the end, the Red failed to even up the score. After the game Hornibrook spoke about her team’s inability to finish, despite having so many late scoring opportunities and having twice as many shots on goal and penalty corners as Villanova.
“They finished and we didn’t. … We just didn’t get it done, and not from a lack of trying,” she said.
The fact that a team could get outshot and still lose was brutally evident for her.
“Field hockey’s like that,” she said. “Sometimes you outshoot teams and lose. That’s the nature of the sport. Sometimes you get outshot and you win. Today it just didn’t go our way.”
Balleza agreed that the game didn’t end in favor of the Red, but as a testament to the team’s positive attitude, she said Cornell will move past this.
“It didn’t really work out the way we wanted, but we’re just going to move on and look forward to the next game,” she said.
Looking forward to the next game, the team will look to end the season on a high note as next weekend’s matchup at Marsha Dodson against Dartmouth will be its final game of the season.
Original Author: Brian Bencomo