September 2, 2005

Field Hockey to Battle Patriot League Rivals

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The field hockey team hopes to kick off the 2005 campaign strongly this weekend with games at Lehigh tonight and at Lafayette on Sunday.

This weekend’s matches will be the Red’s first opportunity to showcase members of the largest recruiting class in team history – a class that will undeniably have to make an immediate impact. “One of the keys to this season is how quickly the freshman will adjust to this level,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook.

With three-fourths of the Red’s lineup in either their first or second seasons, the returning players, led by senior captains Blair Corcoran and Natalie Serle will have to provide the requisite guidance and leadership in order to help ease their younger teammates’ transition. Both Corcoran, in her second year as co-captain, and Serle, the team’s only returning three year letter winner, will be anchoring the Red’s midfield this season.

In last season’s opening match, Cornell defeated Lehigh by a score of 6-3. In order to garner similar results, the Red will need to focus its defense on shutting down the Mountain Hawks’ strong forwards. So far this season, Lehigh is 1-2, while returning 19 players from a team that made its first appearance in the Patriot League tournament since 1996 just last year.

The Lafayette match is gearing up to be another defensive battle. Last season, the Red lost to the Leopards by a slim 2-1 margin and will have to contend again with Lafayette’s solid back line. This year’s match is the home opener for Lafayette, who are looking to bounce back after a 4-14 rebuilding year last season.

In addition to its drilling and conditioning, the team held video sessions and analyzed film in preparation for the weekend matches.

“We know a fair amount about both teams and we feel as if we have the speed edge,” Hornibrook said. “This is one of the fitter teams I’ve coached. They did their work over the summer.”

Having entered preseason already in good physical condition, the Red will look to capitalize on that advantage by making its speed and athleticism a critical component of its game plan. Having lost its two leading goal scorers to graduation, the Red will platoon players in and out of the forward positions, trying to keep fresh legs on the field as much as possible. The team will rely on its experienced players in the midfield and backfield to be tough to score on and to create counter drives which can be taken advantage of up front.

If the team is able to carry out its objectives and capitalize on its strengths while minimizing its lack of experience, the consensus is that the team will not only see success this weekend, but throughout the season.

“Our focus this season is not on the results, but on emphasizing performance. If we execute to the best of our abilities, then the results will come,” Hornibrook said.

Archived article by Jon Hausner
Sun Staff Writer