Look out, Lock Haven, for a fire from the North. While the East Coast has spent the past week suffering a brutal heat wave, the Cornell field hockey team, under head coach Donna Hornibrook, has spent it preparing for its season openers this weekend, and, despite the weather, the Red is not afraid to bring the heat. The team will start off the 2010 season facing the Lock Haven Eagles tonight at 6 p.m. at Charlotte E. Smith Field in Lock Haven, Pa., and then continue to Delaware where it will face the Blue Hens Sunday at noon.
The Red finished last season with an impressive record of 10-5 and went 4-3 in the Ivy League. In terms of the series with Lock Haven, the Eagles (0-2) have a 2-1 lead over the Red. Having lost to the Eagles two years in a row, Cornell finally won 2-1 in overtime last year at home.
Hornibrook said that Lock Haven typically produces a very successful field hockey program, commenting specifically on the athleticism and physical strength of the team.
“We know it’s going to be a tough couple of games,” Hornibrook said. “We are certainly not taking anything for granted since these are the first games of the season.”
Concerning the second game this weekend, the Red and the Hens have never played each other. Delaware is 1-1 this season, having beaten Vermont, 4-2, and lost to New Hampshire, 2-1. The Red is looking to begin the series with a win at the Bob Carpenter Sports Center.
The two-game weekend is not unusual for the Red. Ivy play begins the third week of the season, which doesn’t leave much time for the team to prepare itself for conference games. Hornibrook explained that the idea is to get as many non-league games in as possible right away.
“We don’t have a ton of time to refine our play, so we typically try to get as many games in as possible. That being said, this is probably one of the toughest schedules we’ve put together in the early season.”
This year, the Red will enter its season with 15 returning players, six of which are seniors. Mattie Prodanovic, Catie de Stio, Stephanie Sanders, Elizabeth Schovie, and captains Sara Sanders and Kate Thompson lead the team each with three years of Cornell field hockey under their belts. Hornibrook said that the seniors (as well as the rest of the upperclassmen) have done a phenomenal job of working hard to integrate the eight freshmen players into the team.
“The ones who really set the tone are the returners because they are the ones who are familiar with the system and understand what we are trying to do.”
And what exactly is the team trying to do? In terms of long-term goals, the Red has its eye set on a lofty prize. Having finished in second place in the league several seasons in a row, the team is hungry to beat that record and finish first, defeating top rival Princeton. This weekend, the idea is to get some experience on the field and to evaluate where the team is. Returning sophomore defender Paige Mollineaux explained that the team has already worked extremely hard during the preseason in preparation for the upcoming games.
“The team is really excited for the games this weekend,” Mollineaux said. “We are all hoping that our hard work for the past couple of weeks will pay off and that we will beat Lock Haven and Delaware.”
Original Author: Katie Schubauer