September 12, 2006

Foes’ Films Help F. Hockey Team in Early Games

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While Netflix has a library of over 65,000 movies and a three-DVD rental package costing just $17.99 a month, the field hockey team would be more than happy with just getting game tapes of their opponents more than a day in advance of the match.

Breaking down film is time honored tradition in many sports, and but tape-exchange requirements are new to the Ivy League this year.
[img_assist|nid=18228|title=Stick with it|desc=Sophomore Belen Martinez shields the ball from a Layfette player during Cornell’s 3-0 victory over the Leopards last Sunday at Schoellkopf Field. (Gabriel Long / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=right|width=97|height=100]
“This is a new thing with the Ivy League,” said assistant coach Josette Babineau. “Most other conferences already did this, but this year’s the first time for the Ivy League where we can request a game tape from our opponent prior to the game, and they can do the same from us.”

While Columbia’s game tape came the Thursday before last Friday’s 3-0 Cornell victory over the Lions, breaking down film has become an important component of the Red’s pre-game preparation, and valuable asset in the Red’s 3-0 (1-0 Ivy) — the best start for the team since 1995.

“We don’t use it all the time,” Babineau said. “It basically saves time. … Instead of showing [the team] an entire game, we can show them pieces that pertain to their play.”

Using a digital editing system called “Gamebreaker,” Babineau is able to dissect a two-hour game into relevant sections — such as offense sets, defensive clears, and penalty plays — that hopefully will set up match-winning plays for the Red come game day.

“It allows us to look at what [opposing teams] do defensively and also lets us look at their trends offensively,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook, “When we see patterns, we can take it back to our kids, provide them the information, and maybe set it up in practice.”

In a case like the Columbia game, with such little time to break down the Lions’ system, Hornibrook and Babineau used the tape mainly to double check matchups and reassure the team’s overall game plan.

“For Columbia, [the tape] was less about our attack and more to make sure the way we defend was not going to cause us any problems against them,” Babineau said. “It worked out pretty well.”

While the game tapes for Columbia may have taken a round about route to Hornibrook’s office, more timely film on Lafayette and Lehigh helped Cornell rattle off two straight wins to open its season the weekend before last.

“Lafayette was someone that we really kind of keyed on more than Lehigh, because we had lost to them the two previous years,”

Babineau said. “Their game is very tactical, they’re very well coached, and they’re very disciplined in how they play. So we tried to see if we could try to upset some of their patterns, because they were so disciplined in how they played.”

With 19 of the team’s 25 players underclassmen, game tapes also serve as an invaluable tool for acclimating the young team to the climate of Division I field hockey.

“I think because we have a young team it helps that we can focus a little bit on our opponent without taking away too much of how we play,” Babineau said. “It’s not really changing much of how we play, it’s just making a couple of adjustments.”