The field hockey team embarked on its 2008 campaign this weekend with a road split against No. 19 Albany on Saturday and Siena Saints on yesterday. The Red (1-1) fell, 1-0, to Albany (3-1) before bouncing back with a 3-0 thumping of Siena (0-3). Cornell is trying to continue to build on recent success following a program-best 10 wins last season.
Against the Great Danes, the Red was led by the spectacular performance of starting goaltender junior Melanie Jue who made 19 saves in her first career match. No one has saved more goals for the Red since Lori Blutinger stopped 16 during a Sept. 4, 2004 match against Lehigh University.[img_assist|nid=31502|title=Go to goal, shoot to score|desc=Sophomore Catie De Stio (17) led a front line for the Red that struggled to get opportunites against Albany on Friday before tallying three goals against Siena yesterday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Albany defeated the Red, 5-1, in its match last season, but this time the Red managed to keep the match close for the entire 70 minutes. In fact, it wasn’t until the 54th minute that Albany’s All-American forward Michelle Simpson received a pass from Ashlyn Bach on the left side, dribbled across the goal mouth, and put home a reverse hit.
“That goal was disappointing,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “We were in the game the whole way, and we battled hard, but with 16 minutes to go we suffered a minor defensive breakdown. We didn’t break though, the girls kept a strong mentality.”
Indeed the Red had two opportunities to even the game late. Albany’s goaltender, Ashley Ross, stopped one Red rally after making a great save against sophomore Kate Thompson’s penalty corner with 11:53 left to play.
With just over a minute remaining in the match, the Red had another corner chance, but failed to record a shot when the pass was mishandled. In all, the squad managed just six shot attempts to Albany’s 31, while the Great Danes took 14 penalty corners to the Red’s five.
Despite the loss, the team took many positives out of the match, including an increased confidence in their goaltender.
“This was Melanie’s first game with us, and she really showed up to play,” said senior co-captain Belen Martinez. “We’re excited about this season, and the strongest part of our team held us in there. We’ve got a lot of faith in her.”
Cornell fell to 21-12-4 in season openers, but an impressive 4-1 under Hornibrook.
Yesterday, the story changed significantly. The Red pounded the Saints and led the way in virtually every statistically category, including 9-0 in penalty corners and 30-2 in shots. Leading the team once again was Jue, who posted her first career shutout. Martinez notched the Red’s first goal, while sophomore Sara Sanders added a goal and an assist and junior Kelley Kantarian also scored.
“The win was a balanced, successful team effort,” said Hornibrook. “We’ve got a great group of athletes and good depth. I would’ve liked a little more success on our penalty corners, but hopefully we can build upon this win and upon next weekend’s matches as we look ahead to Ivy play.”
Martinez put the girls ahead in the seventh minute, which was quickly followed by Kantarian’s goal five minutes later, deflecting in a penalty corner. Sanders insured a Red victory with an unassisted goal in the 41th minute.
“Scoring that first goal was huge; getting the insurance goal was even bigger,” said Martinez. “We got the momentum for the very beginning and from there on we could keep going forward with confidence.”