Coming off its first loss of the season to No. 24 Rutgers, Cornell field hockey (5-1) bounced back to defeat Lafayette, 2-0, on the road to conclude nonconference play.
After a slow first half, Cornell took the lead on consecutive goals by seniors Katie Carlson and Sam McILwrick. Both goals came within nine minutes of each other. The Leopards were unable to get much going the entire night, as they only attempted four shots on goal in the game.
“It was probably the most cohesive game that we have played as a team,” said junior midfielder Gabby DePetro. “So, it really started to come together for us, and now we feel really confident going into the next part of our schedule.”
Sophomore goaltender Maddie Henry continued her shutout streak; she has played over 240 minutes this year without allowing a goal.
“I try not to think about it too much, and I just try to communicate a lot with my defense, so we can work as a unit and try to prevent shots from even being attempted,” Henry said. “So, it has really been a team-wide defensive effort.”
Henry has split time in net with senior Kelly Johnson, who has been almost equally as good. Johnson has allowed just four goals in 175 minutes, with a save percentage of 75 percent.
“Honestly, our goalies have been outstanding this year,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “They have been splitting time, but they are both starting caliber goaltenders.”
The defense, led by McILwrick and senior Isabel Josephs, was strong once again. Cornell has only allowed four goals the entire season through six games.
While the team has been as good as any in the country on the defensive side of the ball, they believe that there is plenty of room for offensive improvement. The Red has scored just nine goals this season, and has played in five one-goal contests.
The squad has focused on getting more corner opportunities, as they feel that will give them the best chance to score. Against Lafayette, Cornell attempted four corners, which was one of the team’s highest totals of the season. While they were unable to convert on any of the four chances against the Leopards, the team sees this as an improvement that must carry over in order to be successful in the Ivy League.
“One positive over the last two or three games has been that our corners have finally been coming together,” Hornibrook said. “We have scored three goals off of corners in our last few games.”
Despite the team’s offensive struggles, the Red was ranked No. 20 in RPI. However, the team was unable to crack the top 25 in the coaches’ poll.
Cornell will open up Ivy League play this weekend, when it travels to Penn (2-4). The Red has lost to the Quakers by one goal each of the last two seasons.
“We’ve had some incredible battles with Penn over the last few years, but we just want to continue what we have been doing to this point,” Hornibrook said. “Our team defense has been amazing. We would hopefully like to get some penalty corners, and ultimately keep the pace of the game up, because that is where I think that we will be most successful.”
Last year, Cornell ended the year tied for third in the Ivy League, finishing 4-3. This year, the squad eyed the coveted Ivy League crown and an appearance in the NCAA Tournament.
The Red squares off against the Quakers at noon in Philadelphia, P.A. on Saturday.