October 19, 2007

Field Hockey Hosts Brown Bears

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In the midst of a four-game losing streak, Cornell field hockey will look to salvage the final game of its home stand on Sunday afternoon against the Brown Bears at Schoellkopf Field.
After suffering defeats to Harvard, Colgate, Albany and Bucknell, the Red (6-6, 3-2 Ivy) will face-off against a Brown (0-12, 0-4) team that has scored only seven goals on the season. However, assistant coach Mary McCracken refuses to underestimate Brown, even if opponents are outscoring the Bears by an average of 2.42 goals per game.
“You can never look at [Brown’s] schedule or their record,” McCracken said. “You have to respect every team that comes in and plays. And I’m sure that their intent was not to be 0-12 at this point in the season. I’m sure they’re going to come in with all their guns firing. We just have to come out and try to play our best game.”
Playing its “best game” for an entire 70 minutes has been a difficult task of late for the Red. As a result, McCracken’s words of caution have permeated from the coaching staff down to the players.
“I think there are never any guarantees, especially in the Ivy League,” said senior co-captain Katie Bradshaw. “Last weekend there were a couple of upsets. We all know the Ivy League is definitely up for grabs and any team on any given day can beat anybody. I don’t think we’re taking this game lightly by any means.”
After snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Bears last season in Providence, the Red are looking to close the gap in the head-to-head series, trailing Brown 15-11-3. To do so, Cornell has been working all week on capitalizing off of scoring opportunities.
“I think we’re having scoring opportunities,” McCracken said. “We’re giving ourselves some scoring opportunities, but we’re not finishing. Now, if we had an answer for that, we’d be winning all the time, but we’ve been working on that and trying to finish. Specifically, we’re just trying to put points on the scoreboard. That’s ongoing. That’s something you don’t ignore all season. I think we have been playing well, other than we haven’t been finishing.”
Goals were not the only thing in short supply for Cornell over the past week and a half. Playing four games in the span of eight days significantly reduces practice time as well.
“We’re definitely working hard at practice,” Bradshaw said. “We finally have a few more days of practice than we had in the past couple weeks because we had just been playing a lot of games. We finally have a chance to step back and work on what we really need to work on and get back to where we were in the beginning of the season. We’ve been focusing on finishing. Also, our tackling has been a point of emphasis. We’re just really focusing on getting people [comfortable with] where they are playing. We’re trying to get people more reps at the places where they will be playing on Sunday.”
When it comes to injuries, Cornell appears to be taking its clandestine approach from Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots when it comes to keeping injuries a private matter.
However, freshman midfielder Kate Thompson’s absence from the lineup over the past few games is a setback that has been difficult to overcome. Thompson was lost as a result of a season-ending injury to her arm when she broke her ulna during the Colgate game.
“I think that just happens,” McCracken said. “We did have a few injuries. We’ve had to somewhat regroup a little bit and maybe adjust a little bit of our lineup. Kate [Thompson] was playing well for us. It’s just a matter of regrouping and getting back on track.”
The Red will miss Thompson’s contribution to the team, which earned her Rookie of the Week honors during the first week of the season.
Undoubtedly, the squad will look to rally against a den of angry Bears from Providence, who heretofore have been in hibernation for an early winter. The Red are fully aware they might get clawed if they fail to arrive prepared for a full 70 minute battle.