September 29, 2006

Field Hockey Faces Reigning Champion Tigers

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Schoellkopf Field will be the site of a long-awaited rematch tomorrow when the field hockey team faces reigning Ivy League champion Princeton at noon.

Princeton has the advantage in the series (21-4-3), and the last time the Red beat the Tigers was in 1990. Despite facing Princeton’s tradition of dominance and the prowess of its skill players, senior co-captain Lindsay Moyer believes that Princeton is beatable.

[img_assist|nid=18648|title=Fight club|desc=Senior co-captain Lindsay Moyer (center) fights for the ball during the field hockey team’s 4-2 loss to Yale last Sunday. Moyer had three shots on goal in the contest.|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=76]
“We can match up with them pretty well,” Moyer said. “We gave them a run for their money last year. … [We] have basically the same team this year and we’re even better than last year.”

Exactly one year ago tomorrow, the two teams battled for first place in the standings, as both were undefeated at that point. The Tigers narrowly edged the Red, 2-1. This year’s circumstances are not much different, with Princeton (4-3, 3-0 Ivy) in first place and Cornell (4-2, 2-1 Ivy) close behind in second place.

The Tigers are rolling this year. All of Princeton’s defeats have come against ranked teams, with close losses to No. 19 Richmond and No. 7 Penn State early in the season. No. 3 Old Dominion also carried away a 5-0 victory last Saturday with a monster, four-goal second-half performance.

Sophomore Katie Kinzer and freshman Tina Bortz lead the Tigers with four and three goals, respectively, and senior Allison Nemeth was a dominant presence in the net with 34 saves on 83 shots. The Ancient Eight champions are coming off a 4-1 victory at Columbia last Sunday, in which the Tigers scored off a penalty corner less than three minutes into the game.

The Red, however, are attempting to halt a two-game losing streak in which it lost to Vermont and Ivy rival Yale.

Head coach Donna Hornibrook attributes Yale’s goals, in part, to key defensive breakdowns by the Red. In addition, she thinks that the team was missing something.

“Last weekend, I feel like we didn’t have the same energy we typically play with,” Hornibrook said.

Lack of energy shouldn’t be a problem for this week’s contest with rival Princeton.

“A lot of people have come out [in practice this week] with intensity because they really want to win this weekend,” Moyer said.

In last season’s matchup, the Tigers came out strong at the Class of 1952 Stadium in Princeton, N.J., and then held on for the win. Junior Paige Schmidt scored two goals within the first 17 minutes of play.

“We played them very tough last year at Princeton,” Hornibrook said. “[In] the second half of the game we came on strong.”

Though the Red battled back in the second half, with junior Lizzie Auer rebounding her own shot for a goal, it could not overcome the two-goal deficit.

“[Princeton is] a very balanced team,” Hornibrook said. “They play a composed game … a passing game through the midfield.”

A reason for the Tigers’ success with this game plan is the play of Princeton midfielder Schmidt. Moyer is familiar with Schmidt after playing against her throughout middle school and high school, and views her as one of the Tigers’ greatest assets.

“If we focus on playing the middle well, [Schmidt] should be one less person we have to worry about,” Moyer said. “It’s an important game for us to get back on our feet … and continue our little winning streak.”

This game could be important in terms of individual honors as well as team success. With nine goals in her rookie year and two so far this season, sophomore attacker Alyssa De Paola is two goals away from tying Susan Dallimonte ’73 and Mary-Beth DeLaney ’88 for 10th place on Cornell’s career scoring list.

“Obviously, I want to get there … but I’m just trying to do my job,” De Paola said. “We really want to avenge the loss last year.”