October 17, 2008

With First Place at Stake, Red Takes On Crimson

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The field hockey team has won four games in a row and the victory march continues to Cambridge, Mass., this weekend against Harvard. The two teams will meet on Jordan Field at noon tomorrow for what should be one of the season’s best matches. The Red is currently undefeated in the Ivy League at 3-0 and sharing the top spot with perennial field hockey powerhouse No. 12 Princeton.
“We had two really strong games going into Harvard this weekend, and I think that’s really going to help us on the field,” junior goalkeeper Melanie Jue said.
Since the an overtime victory against Yale kicked off Cornell’s winning streak, the Red’s (8-4 overall) margin of victory has only increased. Last weekend, the Red thrashed Bryant, 9-0, tying the Cornell scoring record. If anything, the Red is riding on a high going into another conference game, but it is sticking to it mindset.
“We’re taking this one game at a time,” said senior captain Abbi Horn.
Sophomore Catie DeStio has proved to be a huge offensive weapon as of recent. In this four-game streak, she has put on a show for the crowds. She scored the game-winning goal in overtime against Yale, the opening goal against Lehigh, another goal at Colgate and a hat trick against Bryant. The team has been turned on since its close game against Yale, and much of that explosiveness can be attributed to de Stio.
“I think it’s sometimes tough when we’re shooting 15 or 20 shots a game and only scoring once, but we’ve been working really hard to convert those shots into goals in these past couple weeks and it’s really starting to pay off,” said junior keeper Melanie Jue. [img_assist|nid=32740|title=Forward, march|desc=Sophomore Mattie Prodanovic takes the ball downfield during Cornell’s 3-1 win over Penn, one of the Red’s three straight Ivy wins to open conference play.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
However, the true success of the season so far and any success at Harvard (6-5, 2-1 Ivy) will be measured in the number of shots on goal the team is taking. Though the Yale win may seem close from the score, the number of shots was heavily weighted in favor of the Red. The more shots the Red makes, the more points it will put on the board.
“We’ve been focusing on getting a lot more shots on cage, and then trying to play the rebounds a little bit better, positioning ourselves to get second and third shots,” said assistant coach Mary McCracken.
Harvard finished fourth in the Ivy League last year and currently sits at third, right behind Cornell, with a 2-1 record. The Crimson lost to Penn earlier in the season, and has a mixed bag of results so far. However last weekend it matched its own scoring record against St. Louis and has also won its past four games in increasingly dominant fashion. More importantly, the Red sees this as a grudge match, after last year’s overtime loss to Harvard at home — one of its only losses of the season.
“We want to play a good game, we want to focus on our play, playing confidently, trying not to play into Harvard’s [game],” McCracken said.
Senior Tami Jafar is likely the biggest offensive threat to the Red tomorrow. She was named to the All-Ivy second team last year, and has scored 11 points this season. However the more enlightening statistic is that she scores 36 percent of the time. Though Jafar is no offensive powerhouse, she is playing well going into this weekend’s game.
“I’ve got a couple buddies on that team, and they’ve been playing pretty well, but I’m looking forward to it being one of the best games this season,” Jue said.
This weekend is a clash of two titans. Both teams hold four-game win streaks, both teams just matched their scoring records, and both teams are contenders for the Ivy League title.