September 29, 2008

Field Hockey Holds Off Columbia Comeback

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The field hockey team split a pair of one-goal games this weekend, walking away with an Ivy victory. On Saturday, Cornell (4-4, 2-0 Ivy) squared off against the Columbia Lions (5-1, 0-1 Ivy) at Yale University’s Johnson Field in New Haven, Conn. After jumping out to a quick lead, the Red weathered a Lion comeback to snatch a 4-3 victory in an offense-oriented match.
A day later, the ladies rolled into Fairfield, Conn., to face off against the Fairfield University Stags (3-8).
[img_assist|nid=32166|title=The Belen Wall|desc=Senior co-captain Belen Martinez, who normally anchors the Red’s defensive line, was the offensive star in Cornell’s win over Columbia, notching two goals.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Despite a strong showing in goal by freshman Alex Botte in her first career collegiate start, the Red failed to save any offensive production for Sunday and suffered a disappointing 1-0 defeat.
“Against Columbia, we had a great start,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook, “We executed our penalty corners well, but right after half we let them get back in the game. There were eight minutes of back and forth action, with momentum shifts every minute or so, but eventually we pulled it out.”
Although Cornell jumped out to a two-goal lead, the match ended much closer than the team would have liked. Senior co-captains Abbi Horn and Belen Martinez both led the offensive outburst for the Red.
Fresh off her Ivy League Player of the Week honors, Horn scored a mere 3:44 into the match on an unassisted goal. Martinez doubled the Red lead, with her first of two goals, just under three minutes later by finishing a nice feed from junior back Natalie Appleton.
The score would stand at 2-0 through the remained of the first half. However, just as the second half began, the proverbial flood gates opened, as seven goals were scored in 7:27. Martinez pushed Cornell’s lead to 3-0 just 1:20 into the second frame.
Columbia found some offense two minutes later, as Christine Buszczak put the Lions on the board. Red junior Katie Kirnan then immediately responded off a pass from senior Stephanie Brownstein to extend the Red lead to 4-1.
Columbia, not to be outdone, scored on back-to-back goals from Maggie O’Connor and Ariel Leon to cut the deficit to 4-3. Despite hitting the post twice in the final 20 minutes for Cornell, that would be all the offense for both teams, and the Red held on for a crucial 4-3 win.
“We did what we had to do,” Martinez said, “We scored those two goals right away, and although they came out hard in the second half, we stayed with Columbia. The game was intense down to the last second. We know from last season that every game matters, and just one goal can make the difference. Thankfully we got the job done there.”
Sunday’s match against Fairfield brought a defensive contrast to the offensive second half versus Columbia. The Red heavily pressured keeper Megan Ambrose with four shots early on, and although it struck the post again, the scored remained tied 0-0 heading into halftime.
Unfortunately for Cornell, Fairfield’s Emily Janis struck in the 43rd minute on a controversial goal. The Red argued that the ball was above the 18-inch maximum height a goal may be scored. Unconvinced, the referee awarded Fairfield the goal. That proved the decider as the Stags walked away with a 1-0 victory. Botte finished with six saves in an impressive first full match.
“The goal was really unlucky,” Botte said, “There was a little bit of a controversy with the height rule, but you play on. Overall though, it was really exciting to get some experience, but really the defense did a lot of work in the game too.”
“Alex did a great job,” Martinez concluded, “We just couldn’t find the back of the net for her. We had a few opportunities with a pair of late corners, but they’re a good team.”