September 11, 2006

Field Hockey Tops Lions

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Sophomore Alyssa DePaola showed why she was a first-team All-Ivy selection last year, as the forward’s two goals lifted the field hockey team to a 3-0 victory over Columbia this past Saturday in New York City.

With the win, Cornell remained undefeated on this young season, improving to 3-0 (1-0 Ivy), while Columbia dropped to 0-3 (0-1 Ivy). The Red’s 3-0 start is the best opening to a season since 1995.

“It felt good to get a win,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “Any Ivy win is a good one, and hopefully, it will help us to keep the momentum going.”

While the Red came away with the victory, the first real scoring chance of the game went to Columbia in the early minutes of the game. Faced with a point-blank shot inside the circle, junior goalkeeper Lizzie Goldblatt came up with a clutch save to preserve the scoreless tie.

“Lizzie came up with a really good save,” Hornibrook said. “Field hockey, like any sport, is a game of momentum, and had they scored on that play — which was pretty dangerous and from point-blank [range] — it definitely changes the complexion of the game.”

But the Red would recover from the Lions’ early scare. Earning a penalty corner in the 14th minute, senior co-captain Sarah Miller slapped a baseline shot to a waiting DePaola, who quickly redirected the shot to put Cornell up, 1-0.

“Alyssa’s an awesome player,” said sophomore back Helena Haas. “If you’ve seen her play, she’s just out of control around the goal, and she definitely stepped it up for an important game like this.”

Haas provided some magic of her own in the opening minutes of the second half. Taking the back post on a penalty corner in the 40th minute of the game, Haas scooped up the rebound from a shot by junior Lizzie Auer, giving the Red a comfortable 2-0 margin.

“I think it was an important goal, especially in an Ivy game, because with a 1-0 lead it’s pretty easy for a team to come back and tie it,” Haas said.

[img_assist|nid=18192|title=Scoring machine|desc=Sophomore attacker Alyssa DePaola (4) scored two goals for the field hockey team in a victory over Columbia on Friday.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=80]

DePaola then put the game out of reach in 49th minute, tallying her second goal of the match off another penalty corner. Cornell — who struggled last season with scoring off set plays — scored all three of its goals against Columbia from penalty corners.

“It’s always good when you’re able to get some success on special teams,” Hornibrook said. “[The goals] were all scored on second shots — that’s something I think that was really big for us because last year corners were something we felt we needed to get a little bit better at.”

Hornibrook was also pleased with the team’s defensive effort, citing the preparation work, led by assistant coach Josette Babineau, as an invaluable asset for helping Cornell develop a game plan for Columbia. The Red gave up only three penalty corners and six shots in the game, employing a high-pressure team defense to stifle Columbia’s offense.

“The way we play team defense is important because that’s where our success comes from — playing as a unit,” Hornibrook said. “That’s something that both offensively and defensively we’re striving for, and I think that’s what I’ve been most happy with the last couple of weeks is that the team has really stuck to the game plan.”