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After beginning the year with two 1-0 wins, Cornell field hockey continued its early winning streak by picking up two more one-goal victories over Vermont and Maine this past weekend.
The Red (4-0) has heavily relied on the goaltending tandem of sophomore Maddie Henry and senior Kelly Johnson. So far this season, the duo has only allowed a combined two goals through four games, and they have saved 92 percent of the shots they have faced.
“We have two starting caliber goalies, and we have been committed to playing both of them,” head coach Donna Hornibrook said. “They work really well together, they have been pushing each other and they have been really supportive of one another. I can’t say enough about how much they mean to this team.”
Their stellar play led the Ivy League to recognize Johnson as the league’s player of the week. Additionally, Henry earned a spot on the Ivy League Honor Roll.
“Our team defense has been great on all three lines, but our goalies have also been phenomenal,” senior captain Sam McILwrick said. “Both of them have played exceptionally well in our opening four games.”
“We came into this season with a lot fight, which was something that we were honestly lacking at some times last season,” added senior forward Katie Carlson. “So that was a huge starting point for us. We’ve been focusing on channeling the drive everyone has into creating smart plays and decisions in the moment because the energy and will to win people have can take over in tough competition.”
The pair’s impressive start has overshadowed the Red’s otherwise slow start on offense. Through its first four games, the squad has netted the ball only six times, half of which came in the win against Maine.
The team began the weekend with a 1-0 win on the road against Vermont (2-3). After a scoreless first half, senior forward Katie Carlson gave the Red the lead, and Cornell never looked back, holding on for its third consecutive victory.
The next day against Maine, Cornell stayed in Vermont and clinched its first top-25 win of the season by defeating the Black Bears in the neutral location.
“They’re consistently a really good team, and we finally scored some goals, so that was a pretty big win for us,” Hornibrook said. “Our defense has been able to bend but not break, which is a promising sign for us as we get closer to Ivy League play.”
The Red got out to an early 2-0 lead on goals by McILwrick and junior forward Isabel Siergiej. But the Black Bears did not go down without a fight.
Maine came roaring back with two goals of its own, both scored by junior Samantha Wagg. The two goals came within four minutes of one another.
Just after halftime, the Red took advantage via a Krysten Mayers goal, and Cornell hung on to yet another one-goal lead, outlasting No. 24 Maine.
“We struggled with our play in the first three games, but finally in the Maine game we played our way. We still have a lot of work to do, but we are happy to see that we are able to perform on game days,” McILwrick said.
In its next game Friday, the Red will host another top-25 team in Rutgers. Cornell will look to start the season 5-0 for the first time since 2009. Last season, the Scarlet Knights defeated the Red 4-2 in New Jersey. Cornell will then travel to Lafayette.
“It’s still early in the season, and we’ve had some moments where we have played exceptionally well, and some moments where we haven’t, but luckily we have been able to come away with wins our first four times out,” Hornibrook said. “We just want to continue to improve and develop — at this point, we aren’t too focused on who our opponent is, because we are mostly interested on how we can get better each game.”