The Cornell field hockey team’s less than stellar start to the 2012 season continued this past weekend, with the Red falling to Bucknell (4-2, 0-0 Patriot League) on Friday, 2-1, and then to Penn State (5-2, 0-0 Big Ten) the following day, 2-0. These defeats leave the Red with an 0-4 record heading into Ivy League play this weekend. However, according to senior back Paige Mollineaux, the Red showed noticeable improvement against the Nitanny Lions on Sunday and gained experience that makes the team better prepared for conference play.
“It was frustrating that things didn’t go our way, and we were upset that we didn’t win on Sunday” she said. “But we played better and it was a great opportunity to play such a good team to prepare us for Ivy League games this weekend, which are more important.”
This sentiment was echoed by junior midfielder Mallory Bannon.
“We worked together more and had better communication than we did in the previous games,” she said.
On Friday, the Red grabbed a 1-0 lead over the Bisons early in the second half, but could not hold on to it. Bucknell had an aggressive offensive attack throughout the game, outshooting Cornell, 12-3. The Bisons broke through with the tying goal 60 minutes in, then netted the winner just five minutes later.
Bucknell’s momentum and Cornell’s momentary defensive lapses allowed the Bisons to take the lead, according to Bannon.
“When they tied the game they gained momentum, and we had good defense for most of the game, but we let our guard down a little bit, and they were able to capitalize on that,” she said.
On Sunday, the Nittany Lions grabbed the lead just five minutes into the game, then doubled that lead five minutes later. However, both of those goals came on penalty strokes — not during regular even strength play.
According to Mollineaux, not allowing any goals in regular play was the result of the defensive unit stepping up its game.
“On defense our play was noticeably different,” she said. “We had each other’s back, and that helped us.”
As was the case in the season’s first two games, the Red was outshot in both games this weekend.
The lopsided shot totals against Penn State was a result of the Nitanny Lions’ aggressive play and quickness to the ball, according to Molineaux.
“Penn State had a tough press that we had trouble breaking for most of the game,” she explained. “They would always be first to the ball when our defense tried to clear it.”
The Red now moves on to Ivy League competition, beginning on Saturday with a home match against Penn.
The Red will focus on integrating the offensive and defensive units, and capitalizing on its chances in preparation for Saturday’s game.
“We’ll work on connecting the forwards and the defense, and the forwards will work on finishing their chances,” Molineaux said.
“We’re going to focus on making sure we flow together, communicate effectively, have strong defense, and finish our chances,” Bannon added.
Having faced a difficult non-conference schedule, the Red feels prepared and excited to start Ivy League play, according to Bannon.
“We’re really looking forward to Ivy League play because they’re always intense games,” she said. “We’ll definitely be prepared and excited for those games.”