This weekend marked more than the beginning of another Cornell field hockey season — it was the start of an optimistic era. Led by new head coach Donna Hornibrook, the Red took the field over the weekend at Schoellkopf — beating Lehigh on Saturday, 6-3, but falling to Lafayette on Sunday, 2-1.
‘I was extremely pleased with our performance,’ said Hornibrook. ‘After the first two games the results were good. Obviously, we were disappointed that we didn”t win Sunday but Lafayette is a strong program. We played well offensively in the first game and played well defensively on Sunday.’
On Saturday, the Red fell behind early after Lehigh scored in the opening minute of play. The Red answered the Mountain Hawks about two minutes later when senior Danielle Dunn redirected a pass from classmate Sarah Wiener to the tie the game. The Red and Lehigh then traded possessions for several minutes with both goaltenders making numerous sprawling saves.
The Red took the lead for good when senior co-captain Gina Testa jarred a rebound loose in front of the Lehigh net and pushed the ball in for an unassisted goal. Less than five minutes later, sophomore Lindsay Moyer received a pass from Dunn and scored her first career goal. Yet, even with a two goal lead, the Red let the Mountain Hawks back in the game — allowing another goal before the end of the half.
The second half opened with a Red score. Just 21 seconds had elapsed when Dunn sent a perfect cross to Wiener who chipped it past the Lehigh goalie. Both teams struggled for control as play vacillated between both ends. Cornell senior Lori Blutinger made several excellent saves to maintain the lead. With about 20 minutes to play, Lehigh once again drew within a goal of the Red.
However, the Red refused to be denied a win. Wiener answered the Lehigh goal by redirecting a shot from Moyer to score her second goal of the game. Then, less than nine minutes later, Moyer scored again on a perfectly executed penalty corner. She was assisted by junior Natalie Serle and junior co-captain Blair Corcoran. Up by three goals, the Red coasted to victory.
The attack may have excelled but Blutinger”s 16 save performance was what truly preserved the victory.
‘Lori had a phenomenal performance on Saturday,’ Hornibrook said. ‘Lori made some great saves when we needed her. She kept them off the board when they began to inch back into the game.’
On Sunday the Red produced a great team performance. Despite losing 2-1, the Red proved they could compete against a very good opponent. Lafayette is the reigning Patriot League Champion and is perennially ranked among the top teams in the nation.
The Red jumped out to an early, 1-0 lead capitalizing on a penalty corner. Corcoran and Serle combined to set up Moyer who fired a shot past the Lafayette goalie — Moyer”s third tally of the weekend. Lafayette responded quickly — a little more than five minutes later they tied the game on a penalty corner. The final twenty minutes of the half were a defensive struggle with neither team able to gain the upper hand. At halftime, the score was 1-1.
The second half witnessed more gridlock but the tide gradually shifted in favor of the Leopards. Lafayette had several long possessions in the Red zone, marching inexorably closer to the Red goal. With about 18 minutes left in regulation, Lafayette finally broke through, scoring on another penalty corner. The Red refused to give up and mounted several strong offensive pushes towards the Lafayette goal in the final ten minutes. Unfortunately, the Red was unable to connect.
‘Lafayette is a ranked team year after year,’ said Hornibrook. ‘On Sunday we out-shot them; last season they out-shot us by 19. Our defense kept us in the game but our offence was not as good as it was in the first game. If we can bring it together, we can challenge any opponent on any day.’
Archived article by James Rich
Sun Staff Writer