September 27, 2010

Field Hockey Team Splits Weekend Matchups

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The Cornell field hockey team was in action twice this weekend with a game Friday afternoon against Ivy rival Columbia (4-3, 1-1 Ivy) in New York City and Sunday afternoon at Marsha Dodson Field against ACC powerhouse No. 3 Virginia (9-0, 1-0 ACC). Friday’s game was a thrilling double overtime 3-2 win in 95 degree weather, while Sunday’s matchup was a sobering 5-2 loss under much cooler conditions. The weekend split brought the Red to 5-2 (2-0 Ivy) on the season.

Friday’s win over Columbia was important for the Red because it was the first Ivy win away from home and both teams were going in 1-0 in conference play.

The Red opened up the scoring at 19:23 when freshman attacker Hannah Balleza converted Cornell’s first penalty stroke of the season. The lead proved short-lived as Columbia senior midfielder Julia Garrison evened up the score just a few minutes later off of a penalty corner. However, the Red took a 2-1 lead into the half thanks to a breakaway goal by freshman attacker Christine Hibler with just under five minutes to go before halftime.

Despite the fact that the Lions had twice as many shots and penalty corners in the second half, it looked like the Red was on its way to securing a win. But with just over four minutes to go in regulation, Columbia’s Garrison netted her second game-tying goal of the match, sending each team into their second overtime game of the season.

Both teams matched each other in shots and penalty corners in the first overtime period, but in the second overtime, the Red was more aggressive, outshooting the Lions and achieving more penalty corners. In fact, it was off of one of these penalty corners, with only 2:23 left, that senior attacker Catie De Stio lifted the Red to victory.

Such a thrilling win undoubtedly provided some momentum going into Sunday afternoon’s contest against nationally-ranked Virginia (9-0, 1-0 ACC). Like the Red, the Cavaliers came into the game riding the momentum of a double-overtime win on Friday.

The first half was hard fought with each team scoring only one goal: De Stio for the Red and junior midfielder Paige Selinski for the Cavaliers. Cornell head coach Donna Hornibrook was happy with her team’s effort in the first half, but wasn’t ready to rest on her laurels.

“I thought we played well in the first half, but I mean the game is 70 minutes long, so it wasn’t like ‘oh great’ we played really well for 35 minutes … I felt we had an excellent first half — probably our best first half of the year,” Hornibrook said.

The second half was completely different; the Red appeared to lose steam, while the Cavaliers showed why they have the ninth-best offense in the NCAA.

“In the second half a couple things happened. I think they played really well. They certainly moved the ball and picked it up,” Hornibrook said. “We spent some time kind of watching each other work. We kind of got ourselves behind the eight-ball. To be honest I can’t fault our team because they played their hearts out on Friday.”

Selinksi, one of the top scorers in the nation, scored her second goal of the game at 1:41 to put Virginia up early in the second half. Senior midfielder Haley Carpenter followed up with another goal a few minutes later to make the score 3-1.

Midway through the second half, seeing that time was running out for the Red, Hornibrook called a timeout.

When asked what Hornibrook said during that timeout, De Stio explained, “Just to really refocus ourselves, to keep playing our game, and just to keep our energy up and our motivation up.”

Shortly after the timeout, however, Virginia freshman forward Elly Buckley scored two unanswered goals within two minutes of each other –– effectively putting the game out of reach for Cornell.

With only a few minutes left in the game, De Stio answered the crowd’s plea for more offense with a furious charge to the net ending with a goal. The goal was a bittersweet milestone for De Stio, who tied Cari Hills ’97 for second on the Red’s all-time scoring list with 30.

After the game, Hornibrook said that the team would be working on a few things defensively this week, although she was proud that her squad was able to limit the potent Cavaliers offense to just 16 shots on goal.

Original Author: Brian Bencomo