The Class of 2005 came into its final season with something to prove. As the field hockey team heads into its final game this weekend, it is apparent the seniors have already left their mark.
“My first impression of them was that they were hungry,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “They had lots of personal pride. They love the game, and they’re passionate about it.”
When seniors Gina Testa, Danielle Dunn, Jamie Woolsey, Lori Blutinger, and Sara Weiner take the field this Sunday for the last game of the season, it will be the end of a tumultuous four years. Together, they have faced three coaching changes and personal challenges that have tested their commitment to the sport and to each other.
“I think we’ve all had kind of a rough ride as far as field hockey goes,” Testa, a co-captain, said. “But it’s brought us together and made us determined to end on a positive note.”
Nothing came easy for these five players on the turf. They worked their way up through the ranks from subs to starters, and the 2004 season has been a breakout year for each of them.
“They had an opportunity this year,” Hornibrook said. “Sara and Gina played a lot last year, but for some it was the first opportunity to be a starter every day.”
Each player made the most of her last campaign for the Red. Dunn has led the team with six goals and four assists, a huge jump for a player that recorded a lone assist last season. Testa has kept up her scoring ways, contributing five goals this year to match last season’s output. Weiner has come up big with three goals and two assists. Woolsey, who considered sitting out her senior year, has contributed a goal and a season’s worth of solid effort in the midfield.
Senior Lori Blutinger, who Testa calls the “heart and soul” of the team’s defense, echoes many of her teammates feelings.
“I love it here at Cornell,” Blutinger said. “I’ve been coming to camp here since I was a junior [in high school] and I just love the campus. I loved my teammates even back when I first met them. I knew this was a program I wanted to be a part of.”
This season, Blutinger has stepped into the net and anchored the Red defense. She currently leads the Ivy League in saves and averages 8.79 saves a game the second best in the Ivies. This past weekend against Rutgers, she posted her first career shutout stopping three shots. Despite her abilities, she almost did not play college field hockey.
“I didn’t decide that I wanted to play field hockey until late in my high school career,” she said. “I knew that I wanted to go to a good school and I knew that playing would help me get into Cornell. I really loved the sport so when the opportunity came I took it.”
Blutinger did not immediately find a place with the Red. She spent most of her first three years stranded behind goaltender Kaitlin Tierney and played in only five games. She persevered and stayed with the team.
“For me the experience was more important than the playing time,” she said. “I worked really hard to earn my spot this year. It was more than playing on the field, it was about the love of the game, my teammates, and being a part of something.”
This season, Blutinger finally cracked the starting lineup and has not looked back. After four years, her memories and accomplishments will transcend the playing field.
“I will remember all my friends and the experiences,” Blutinger said. “Having gone through three different coaches, I’m so happy with where the program is headed with our new coaching staff.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer and James Rich
Sun Staff Writers