October 3, 2010

Field Hockey Bounces Back to Earn Split

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Fans were treated to back-to-back days of field hockey this weekend at Marsha Dodson Field. Cornell (6-3, 2-1 Ivy) took on the Yale Bulldogs (6-3, 2-1) Saturday afternoon, and the St. Francis Red Flash (2-9) yesterday afternoon. After a heartbreaking 3-2 loss on Saturday, yesterday’s game was a much-needed 4-1 win to end the Red’s two-game losing skid.

Although the previous Sunday’s loss to No. 3 Virginia was disappointing, Saturday’s loss was tougher to swallow. After the game, freshman attacker Hannah Balleza could be seen sobbing in the post-game team huddle. Senior attacker Catie De Stio, recognizing the moment, wrapped an arm around her and said a few words.

“I know what she’s going through,” De Stio explained, recalling the undue burden that she had also placed on herself at times as a freshman. “It’s a group effort,” she added. “That’s why we don’t play an individual sport. We play a team sport, always focusing on the team. I had to give her a little pat on the back there.”

Balleza was upset at herself after the game because of a miscommunication on the last play of the game –– a penalty corner –– which, if converted, would have tied up the game and sent it into overtime.

“She just told me that it’s okay, that it’s just one corner, that it’s not a big deal, and just to move on. I mean it helped. She was very supportive,” Balleza said.

That last play was a heartbreaking way to end a tough game, which saw the Red fall behind in the second half and try to claw its way back.

“We had our moments and we didn’t capitalize on them and when it’s that tight it’s going to hurt you,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “It just didn’t go our way. It was very tight,” she added.

Cornell only converted one of its seven shots in the first half, while Yale scored on its only shot. In the second half, the Bulldogs almost matched the Red in shots and penalty corners. Unlike the Red, however, the Bulldogs capitalized on their opportunities, showing why they have the 16th-best offense in the nation, scoring two more goals to equal their per-game average. Freshman midfielder Georgia Holland scored her second unassisted goal of the game at 47:19, and junior back Erin Carter scored at 59:45 to give the Bulldogs a commanding 3-1 lead.

The game intensified in the last 10 minutes. Three players for Cornell got carded, and a boisterous crowd called the referees out multiple times for what they saw as missed penalty calls on Yale. Meanwhile, the Red turned up the pressure, racking up penalty corners. Balleza scored a goal off of one of these with just over seven minutes to go. There were three more penalty corners inside of five minutes, but Cornell failed to convert any of them.

Yesterday’s game started off similarly for Cornell, as it fell behind early to St. Francis. Just like in the team’s previous two games, the Red subsequently scored a goal to knot things at one. However, unlike in the other games, Cornell added a second goal before halftime, thanks to Balleza. Meanwhile, junior goalkeeper Alex Botte made a couple of good saves in the last couple minutes of the half to preserve the lead.

Playing with its first lead in three games, the Red kept the pressure on by racking up shots early and often throughout the second half (19 of the Red’s 33 shots came in the second half).

“The first 10 minutes of each half can be huge in setting the tone, and so we tried to address it and just be ready. We came out a little bit early, got moving sooner, just sort of trying to shorten the amount of time that we were in at halftime,” Hornibrook said, explaining the difference in the second half.

One of the Red’s many second-half shots finally went in at 50:24 courtesy of senior co-captain and midfielder Kate Thompson. And just four minutes later, sophomore midfielder Genevieve Collins capped the score with another goal.

Sophomore attacker Kat DiPastina, who had scored Cornell’s first goal of the game, didn’t score in the second half, but was consistently aggressive, ending the game with a team-high four shots on goal. When asked about her performance, she was quick to credit the whole team with a strong second-half performance.

“I think that as a team we played with a lot more passion in the second half. I think that we really stepped it up from the first half,” she said.

As time winded down, the Red Flash was awarded a few penalty corners, but the Red defense held solid, not allowing the Red Flash to convert any of these dangerous plays into a score.

The win was an important one going into a short week in which the Red will travel to Hamilton, N.Y., on Wednesday to take on Colgate.

Original Author: Brian Bencomo