One of the most common metaphors in sports is the comparison between a team’s season and a roller coaster. There are ups and downs until finally the team balances out somewhere around .500. This cliché can be used to summarize the field hockey team’s 2011 campaign — a season that included flashes of brilliance, but ultimately ended with Cornell coming up short in its efforts to win a league title. The Red (7-8, 1-4 Ivy League) continued this pattern in its final two home games, earning its first conference win of the season on Saturday in an impressive 4-2 victory against Brown (3-11, 0-5), but then falling the next day, 2-0, to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights (5-11, 2-2 Big East) on Senior Day.
Senior co-captain Alex Botte, who tied the mark for most wins as a goalie in Cornell history in Saturday’s victory, highlighted the team’s up and down play.
“It felt like we were a different team on Sunday,” she said. “We set the tone early against Brown creating and capitalizing on opportunities. The game could have gone either way, but we did all of the little things right to secure the win. Sunday there was a lot of hesitation.”
Botte made six saves on Saturday to record her 19th victory as a Cornell net minder, earning the senior a spot in the field hockey record books.
“It was nice to do it at home”, Botte said. “I’m happy that I got to leave a legacy here, but this is by no means an individual accomplishment … This is a greater reflection on everyone I’ve played with through the years.”
Senior co-captain and forward Oliva Boyd has been with Botte the entire way. This weekend marked the last time that the duo would play in front of the Cornell faithful on Dodson Field.
“Olivia and I love this team,” Botte said. “The fact that we have two more away games left against very formidable opponents made [Senior Day] much easier. I would have otherwise shed more than a few tears.”
Another storyline of note this weekend was the return of sophomore forward Hannah Balleza to the lineup. Despite being sidelined for much of the week in practice with a mild concussion, the Severna Park, Md. native decided to suit up on Saturday, helping the Red earn the victory by finding the back of the net. Balleza also had an assist on the day.
“It was great getting back out there and helping the team any way I could”, Balleza said. “Although, what secured the victory for us was that we played well as a team.”
Also adding to the Cornell offense this weekend was sophomore forward Brittany Thompson, who netted two goals against Brown and created numerous scoring opportunities. Junior midfielder Genevieve Collins and junior forward Kat DiPastina also added productivity on the offensive end. Collins found her teammates twice for a pair of assists, and DiPastina notched her 17th career goal.
The Red closes out the season with road games against Princeton and Dartmouth over the next two weekends. Both Ivy foes are still in the hunt for the Ancient Eight title. Although Cornell has officially been eliminated from the chase for a conference championship, the team is eager to finish up strong.
“Both teams draw big home crowds, especially Princeton, so it should be fun to finish up the season on that note,” Botte said. “If we don’t get intimidated we have a good shot of winning. “