By JACK KANTOR
The Cornell field hockey team resiliently fought the No. 10 Albany Great Danes to the final whistle on Tuesday evening at Albany, as the Red scored a late goal that proved to not be enough in the 2-1 loss.
“It was probably our best game of the season,” head coach Donna Hornibrook said about the loss. “Obviously we are disappointed with the result.”
The nationally-ranked Albany Great Danes only slightly outplayed the Red (13-2, 4-1 America East). Cornell only had one less shot on goal than Albany, who put six shots on the away team’s goal.
“Albany is a great team, and we stepped up to the challenge. We were able to adapt to their style of play to keep the score competitive,” said senior Marisa Siergiej.
Albany came out strong early, moving the ball quickly around the field with confidence and skill. However, Albany’s prowess did not shake the Red as gradually Cornell began to take control in the first half.
“The defense and midfield focused on outletting the ball to space,” Siergiej said. “On the opposite end, forwards provided good pressure on the ball.”
Two saves in the first half were even made behind the keeper by defenders. Hornibrook and the rest of the team believed the ball had actually gone in.
Unfortunately, that was not the case as the score stood at 0-0.
With a minute left in the half, Albany struck first with a goal.
Hornibrook said that “it was unfair and disappointing to come out of the half down 1-0,” between Cornell’s quality chances and Albany’s counter-attack goal off what the Red considered a questionable call.
Yet, Cornell was still playing the top tier Great Danes close and kept a positive attitude coming into the second half of play.
Similar to the beginning of the game, Albany came out of halftime moving the ball well around the field, controlling the play. “Because we defended a lot, I think we got worn down a bit but hung in there.” Hornibrook said of the second half.
When 10 minutes were left on the game clock, Cornell called a timeout down 2-0. Coach Hornibrook did not want to give away their secrets, but said how they talked about being more aggressive and really cranking up that attack.
Junior Katy Weeks, assisted by senior Taylor Standiford put in a top shelf goal to put the Red within a goal. Cornell pushed hard for the equalizer, but came up empty.
“[Albany] was in the Final Four last year; they really tested us,” Hornibrook said. “I thought it was excellent preparation for the last stretch for the rest our season.”
This weekend, Cornell will take take on the Brown Bears (6-7, 1-3 Ivy) and the Lehigh Mountain Hawks (3-11, 0-4 Patriot) as the Red look to get back on track with this solid season thus far.
“Our focus has been pretty consistent over the last 3 or 4 weeks,” Hornibrook said. “We have been focusing on our play, what we do well. We are really looking to move the ball well, to be fluid in our attack … to defend with a lot discipline as a team. Those are the things we are going to focus on, continue to build going into the weekend.”
While a team might not rack up the wins, there are benefits to not playing a soft schedule outside conference play. The match against Albany, although not an ideal outcome, is great preparation and confidence booster heading into the weekend and their final games.
“Hopefully the preparation that [the team’s] looking for in terms of the quality of these games, how fast it is,” Hornibrook said, “will help us going forward.”