The Cornell field hockey team is back after an overall 8-9 finish last season that has left the returning players hungry for more. With a freshman class of 11 all looking to make a strong impact for head coach Michelle Tambroni’s squad, the Ivy League should be warned.
With the addition of new assistant coach Lisa Kadien to complement the already talented staff, the Red now has the depth to bring the program to the next level.
Kadien “adds tons to the team’s personality,” commented Tambroni. “I’m very proud of both my assistants.”
Kadien joins goalie coach Gus Reed of the US National team on the Red’s sideline.
In the goal cage, senior Maureen Sullivan, who started every game last season, will begin the season as the ‘keeper.
“She’s strong, came in great shape, and is much faster than she’s ever been,” Tambroni praised.
Meanwhile, two other goalies on the roster, sophomore Jen Duthie and freshman Kaitlin Tierney, are fighting for the second netminder spot.
In the backfield, the Red aims to continue the defensive successes of last year, when it allowed one or fewer goals in six of its eight wins.
With a slew of new faces competing for spots, Tambroni has shuffled the positions a bit. Senior co-captain Amy Galebach is moving to a midfield slot, placing the sweeper duties squarely on the shoulders of classmate and fellow co-captain Kate McMahon.
“We’re playing a different system this year than we played last year,” Tambroni explained. “Our sweeper in the back is playing a power play, so we’re going to be very aggressive. So [McMahon] is going to be shooting. She’s going to be very offensive as a sweeper.”
The three-back formation still has a few questions as to who will be seeing the bulk of playing time. At right back, junior Melissa Wannop brings a steady presence and good tackling to the field. Competing with Wannop for the spot is freshman Kelly Soltis.
Senior Catherine Kelly, who started at center back last year, is battling for her position with another freshman, Kim Gardner. Freshman Ali Winsky will also be in the hunt for playing time.
One of the few definite starters entering the season is sophomore Sarah Nordstrom at left back. However, freshman Sommer Costabile has also shown promise at that position and will likely see playing time as well.
Tambroni’s particular goal for the backs is to “focus on their girl, and if they can take care of their job, get the job done, they can walk out saying, ‘My girl did not score.’ That’s how I want them to be as individuals.”
Offensively, a changing of the guard has taken place for the Red. After losing 25 of the 29 goals scored last year to graduation, the Red has begun a year of rebuilding, but hopes to still be an offensive threat. Due to an influx of impressive freshmen combined with the talent of a strong core group of upperclassmen, the Red has the depth to put the ball in the cage.
In the new system, Galebach finds herself at the center midfield position. Here she will be a “pivotal player” who will control the flow of the game.
Joining Galebach is freshman Karleigh Burns, who steps right into the shoes of former standout midfielder Sarah Walton ’00. Burns is a solid player who could have a strong positive impact.
It appears that opposite Burns will be sophomore Sarah Rosenbaum, who can utilize her speed to help her find the goal.
Starting in the center forward position for Cornell is junior Ashleigh Snelson.
Moving from the center midfield position to center forward, Snelson possesses strong stickwork that should make her a force to be reckoned with.
Joining Snelson on the front line will be sophomore Anna Starkey at the left forward position. Starkey is a phenomenal shooter who could be the Red’s leading scorer.
“She is a power hitter who can make things happen,” commented Tambroni.
Controlling the right side of the field will be one of two young guns, either freshman Carissa Mirasol or classmate Lindsay Grace.
“This is the first time I’ve ever really sat here and not known who was starting at all positions on September 1st.” Tambroni said. “Usually it’s pretty much set in stone, but six positions are up in the air.”
Archived article by Alex Fineman