The field hockey team knows heartbreak, having battled through six straight one-goal affairs and lost five of them. Rutgers’ field hockey team knows heartbreak as well, going through its own stretch where 7-of-8 matches were decided by one goal, with only three of those games showing up in its win column. Saturday night these two teams will meet up in Piscataway, N.J., to see who truly is the queen of one-goal contests.
[img_assist|nid=19266|title=Miller time|desc=Senior attacker Sarah Miller (7) advances the ball up the field in the Red’s 4-3 loss to Syracuse on Oct. 24. (Alex Teney / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=left|width=71|height=100]
The Red (5-8, 3-3 Ivy) will match up with the Scarlet Knights (6-11, 1-5 Big East) for only the fifth time, with the schools splitting the first four games. The two teams have not met since 2004.
“They’ve definitely improved from a couple of years ago,” said assistant coach Josette Babineau. “They’re a completely different team.”
“They play a different type of system than we are used to, so that will be a challenge,” added assistant coach Blair Corcoran ‘06.
These days, the Scarlet Knights are led by Amy Lewis, who with 20 goals on the season is not only an offensive powerhouse, but also on the Big East Honor Roll. Although Rutgers’ record may not show it, all the Cornell coaches insisted that the Knights are a very talented team. Their record has suffered, the coaches say, from consistently being pitted against top-25 teams in the Big East, a conference that has had up to four of the seven teams ranked. Currently, it boasts three ranked members.
“They are very well coached in formation,” Babineau said. “They are very set in their patterns and are very disciplined in their positioning.”
Not only is Rutgers well coached, but it also does not rely too heavily on any one aspect of its game, according to head coach Donna Hornibrook.
“They are a pretty balanced team that is very organized,” she said. “They have a good penalty corner unit like any quality team would. That will definitely be a focus for us. We worked on our penalty corner defense some [Wednesday], but if you give any good team corners they will execute them eventually. That’s why field position is a big part of our game. We don’t want them getting fast the defense did falter a little, however, against Syracuse, giving up four goals (two on penalty corners), after one of the seasons best performances against Brown, a 1-0 shutout, only giving up seven shots and one penalty corner.”
The offense, stagnant for much of its 7-game losing streak, has picked up the slack recently, scoring eight times in the last four games, as opposed to a paltry two in the five before that.
“We’re definitely going to try and push it a little,” Hornibrook said. “I was pleased with the way we did that on Tuesday. The penalty corner unit was looking really sharp [scoring two goals], and I look for them to do the same Saturday.”
“We are definitely an attack-minded team,” Corcoran said. “Our forwards have to be a big part of what we do.”
With the season coming to a close, Hornibrook is not looking to make big formation changes or overhaul the system. Hornibrook simply plans to make adjustments out of the zone formation that has served them all year, and instead emphasizes the importance of this game leading up to their final Ivy League match up.
“Every game is important for us,” she said. “We’ve competed well, and had a chance to win a lot of games, but with three games left, and two of them non-conference, we want to be ready for Dartmouth. Also, with such a young team every game is an opportunity to grow since this bunch will be together for a long time. It’s all just another step in the journey.”