Nearing the 55th minute, Cornell and Princeton seemed to be locked in an epic Ivy League field hockey battle. Just 15 minutes later, however, the Cornell players found themselves trudging off the field, trying to figure out how they had just given up six goals on their way to a 6-0 loss.
“We played 55 great minutes,” said senior co-captain Lindsay Moyer. “After that, it all just kind of fell apart from there. I really have no idea why.”
Moyer’s bewilderment represented the mood of a team that came within a goal of taking down Princeton last year for the Ivy League crown. This year, however, the loss, the team’s third straight, dropped the Red to 4-3 (2-2 Ivy), while allowing the Tigers to remain unbeaten in conference play at 4-0, and 5-3 overall.
Holly McGarvie led the charge for the Tigers, finishing the game with four goals and one assist. Katie Kinzer and Sarah Reinprecht added a goal apiece, while Reinprecht earned another point with an assist.
“The score didn’t represent how well we played,” Moyer said.
Indeed, Cornell had played Princeton evenly in a first half that featured solid ball-handling out of the midfield for both teams. With the ball being controlled so effectively in the middle of the field, chances were slim on both ends. The Red did, however, break through for a few shots, including one that got past the Tigers’ keeper Allison Nemeth, before being saved off the line by Kaitlyn Perrelle. At halftime, Cornell walked into the locker room with a 4-3 advantage on shots, but trailing 4-1 on offensive corners.
“I’m really proud of our team,” Moyer said. “We had them on their heels. The look on their faces at halftime was priceless. Cornell is usually a team that they roll over. We were able to come out and play our game, though. We didn’t let them dominate. Using our midfield more was something we have been trying to do all season, not just against Princeton, and we were able to do that.”
As the second half commenced, the teams continued to go back and forth, remaining in a deadlock. The Red failed to capitalize on a shot, and then two offensive corners all within a few minutes. It one of the few times the ball stayed predominately on one end of the field for any length of time. With about 15 minutes remaining however, the Tigers finally scrapped together a goal on the second put-back attempt after a deflected shot. The first goal was quickly followed by the second, on a well-executed corner.
“They had some great corners,” Moyer said. “It also seemed like they had people all over the place in the crease. We would make the initial block on the shot, but they just kept battling. They are a very scruffy team.”
At that point the floodgates seemed to burst open, with Princeton netting four more goals in the final 10 minutes.
“Once that tally starts rising, it’s inevitable that it would just keep going,” Moyer said. “To have to hear that sound of the ball hitting the backboard that many times was awful. Towards the end there, though, we were just ringing our defense out to dry, because we were pushing everyone up on offense. They kept having two-on-ones and three-on-twos on us so it was just pass, pass, until they had an open shot. That isn’t the defense’s fault.”
When the dust had settled, Princeton had put up an astounding 15 shots, to go with five offensive penalties in the second half to the Red’s six shots and four offensive penalties. Junior Lizzie Goldblatt stopped 10 of the Tiger’s shots, but it was to no avail.
“We learned last year against Princeton that we have to be more defensive,” Moyer said. “They have their best player at center back play up on offense all game. That meant that [sophomore] Alyssa [DePaola] had to drop back on defense a lot during the game. That probably hurt us a little.”
Nonetheless, the team stands to learn from Saturday’s game.
“This just showed us that we need to focus on getting more offensive corners, because that’s when most teams score,” Moyer said. “Yes, it sucks that we lost, but we’ve definitely improved. You have to look at the positives.”