September 14, 2007

Field Hockey Faces Penn, Rutgers

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The field hockey squad will put its undefeated record (3-0 overall, 1-0 Ivy) on the line in back-to-back contests this weekend, beginning tomorrow against the Penn Quakers at Franklin Field. The Red will then return home to take on the Rutgers Scarlet Knights Sunday afternoon.
“It’s going to be a long weekend,” said junior midfielder/attacker Abbi Horn. “It’s going be hard traveling Saturday night and playing Sunday afternoon. It’s going to be a tough weekend, but I think it’s no­thing we can’t handle as long as we play our game.”
Playing its game is exactly what the Red has done since the start of the season. After two weeks of play, Cornell and Penn (1-4 overall, 0-1, Ivy) appear to be headed in opposite directions, although the Quakers finally scratched out a 1-0 victory Wednesday night against Fairfield.
“Penn’s always a really competitive team and I wouldn’t say we are the favorites in the game,” Horn said. “Especially this year because they are home and they play on the field turf. It will be different on the field turf and that’s something we’re going to have to adjust to. It’s going to be a really gutsy game. It’s going to be a really physical game. The team that’s going to come out on top is the team that’s willing to lay it all out there.”
Cornell defeated Penn, 2-1, in its matchup last season at Schoellkopf Field, but it is a different story this year as the Red gameplan for the unusual playing conditions at Franklin Field.
“Our main preparation is that we have been at Courtland all week practicing on their field turf because Penn plays at Franklin Field, [which is] field turf,” said assistant coach Mary McCracken. “It’s a little bit of different surface than the wet field we play on at Schoellkopf. There’s a slight adjustment we just have to make mentally to playing on that field. The ball just doesn’t travel as true on its surface. It’s a little bit slower and bumpier. It changes the trueness of the bounce and the speed of the game. It’s been our focus to adjust to the slower surface, or truer surface.”
In head-to-head contests, the Red sport a sub-.500 record (9-20) against the Quakers, which is why the team won’t be focusing on Penn’s subpar record this year as an indication of an easy contest.
“I don’t think we focus on the overall record against Penn,” said senior defender and co-captain Katie Bradshaw. “We just focus on the team that they are this year and the personnel we have, so we can put out our best game against them. How we’ve done in the past really doesn’t affect us because it’s a different game every time we play them.”
Regardless of what past performances may or may not say about the tomorrow’s showdown at Penn, McCracken feels the team’s focus is exactly where it should be.
“I think what’s most difficult on a weekend like this is that we’ll be [playing] away and then we’ll be [playing at] home [on Sunday],” She said. “Our focus is on Penn first since it is an Ivy League competition and trying to get through that one. You can’t play look-ahead-to-Rutgers really until the whistle is blown at the Penn game. I think we’re going to just draw on our experience when we played against Columbia at home since that was the most recent game. We looked a little bit at film on how we performed during that competition and we’re hoping to build on that. You really don’t have much time to prepare specifically for Rutgers. I think we’ll just have to worry about how we play. We’ll look at a few things on film, but as far as preparing you really have to look at Penn first.”
Although much of the team’s focus seems to center around its Ancient Eight foe, the Red will look to win its second straight contest against Rutgers, having defeated them, 4-2, last season.
“We have really been focusing on Penn because that’s our Ivy League game,” Horn said. “But obviously once we’re done with Penn we’re going to move on to Rutgers and that’s a game we can’t take lightly. They’re a really great team and played a really competitive game last year. They have a really strong style of play, so we’re going to switch gears quickly and be on top of our game Sunday.”
Horn’s sentiments were similarly echoed by Bradshaw.
“It’s going to be a quick transition just because we are playing on back-to-back days, but we’re a pretty adaptable team,” she said. “We have a lot of depth, which is going to be important for the weekend since we are doing all that traveling.”