October 20, 2008

Field Hockey Edges Harvard in Cambridge

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CAMBRIDGE, Mass. — The field hockey team extended its win streak to five this past Saturday, notching a win at Harvard, 1-0. The team continues to hold an undefeated Ivy League record of 4-0, and is now past the toughest of their competition in the Ivy league.
[img_assist|nid=32784|title=Coming through in the clutch|desc=Katie Kirnan (left) scored the gamewinner in the Red’s 1-0 victory at Harvard on Saturday with 19 minutes to go in the match between Ivy League heavyweights.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
As the teams took to Jordan Field in Cambridge, Mass., the distinct Irish hard rock of Flogging Molly was playing in the background. The match featured a quick and mean tempo, much like the song. Both teams were on their toes, not only because this was a rematch of a close loss last season for the Red (9-4, 4-0 Ivy), but the matchup with Harvard (6-6, 2-2) had the potential to be one of the toughest matches so far for both teams.
“I don’t they’ll run scared, but trust me they should be scared,” said one Crimson fan. “Our team is on top of its game, trust me.”
The Red was sloppy at the start. This wasn’t the same team that has scored in the first minutes of many of its recent matches.
More than once, sophomore Catie De Stio would run down the wing only to miss crosses to the center, or the Red would make sloppy passes at midfield.
“It was nerve-wracking definitely, it was tricky but I think we handled it well,” said junior goaltender Melanie Jue. “The entire game was a blur to me, it went by so fast.”
Harvard, on the other hand, was playing a much more conservative game, passing quickly all around the field, trying to set up scoring opportunities. The Red had a more breakaway style, trying to quickly change the momentum but not doing much setting up before going for the cage.
“Our defense played really well, that really made the difference in that first period,” Jue said.
Jue may have been the Red’s most valuable player for the first half, blocking shot after shot from the Crimson. She especially came through with 17 minutes to go in the first period when Harvard got three shots off in quick succession. Jue created a brick wall, letting nothing in. At the end of the first half, neither team’s strategy had paid off and the score stood at 0-0.
“It’s heart-wrenching to watch the game go back and forth like this,” said Red fan Brent Tanner at half time. “The Red really needs to make a breakthrough. We’ve had chances but we never seem to execute.”
With 19 minutes to go in the second period, junior attacker Katie Kirnan deflected a pass from senior back Belen Martinez for the score. The goal, taken off of a set play, came at just the right time. The Red started to take control, keeping possession for much longer periods and really starting to dominate with the ball. Harvard had few chances after that to score.
“I think we played the game we set out to play, we tried to just play our game and keep a good head on our shoulders,” Jue said.
As the final seconds counted down, the Cornell stands began to erupt. The bleachers shuddered under the pressure of the Red faithful on their feet.
“This is it, I know this is it, we are going all the way this time!” said a fan.
There was a feeling in the air that this was the team that would bring another Ivy championship to Cornell. But, with three more matches to go in Ivy League play, there are still tests ahead for this strong team. It’s Harvard down — Brown, Princeton and Dartmouth to go.