October 25, 2010

Field Hockey Secures Overtime Win Over Brown

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The field hockey team took the field in Providence, R.I., over the weekend, playing one game against Brown on Saturday. As has become habit, Cornell dominated the competition and brought another win back to East Hill.

The Red (10-3, 4-1 Ivy League) has been very impressive as of late, taking eight of its last 10 and riding a five-game winning streak. With Saturday’s win over the Bears (3-11, 1-4 Ivy League) at Brown’s Warner Roof, the Red maintains its hold on second place in the Ivy League (along with Yale) and is still in hot pursuit of No. 5 and conference leader Princeton.

On Saturday, Brown jumped out to an early lead, with senior midfielder Katie Hyland putting a penalty corner past Cornell keeper Alex Botte.

“They got a deflection off a stick and they had a high forward; the ball bounced to the high forward and they got a penalty corner, so they got their goal off a corner,” said Cornell head coach Donna Hornibrook, explaining how the close score was not indicative of how the Red dominated the game. “That was their offense.”

After an intense first-half midfield battle that saw both teams take only four shots (one of which was on goal for Brown, and none of which were on goal for Cornell), the Red was able to pull it together in the second half and the Bears didn’t stand a chance. Cornell got off eight shots in the second half –– eight of which were on goal –– and was able to turn one of those shots into a point.

“We started to move the ball really, really well,” Hornibrook said. “We were definitely creating the majority of the scoring chances, we just weren’t able to finish. We stayed with it and worked through it and eventually we got the goal.”

That goal came at just about the halfway point in the second half. After a penalty was called on Brown, freshman attackman Mallory Bannon put the ball in play for the Red, getting it to senior attacker Catie De Stio, who put it on the stick of senior midfielder Mattie Prodanovic at the top of the circle, who was able to put it away past Brown junior goaltender Lauren Kessler (who was later issued a yellow card and replaced by sophomore Alexis Aurigemma with less than a minute to go in regulation).

While the offense’s constant pressure on the Brown defense eventually allowed Cornell to tie the game, Hornibrook was quick to credit the Red defense, which shut down every Brown attempt in the second half –– holding the Bears to one shot and no shots on goal for that half.

“We didn’t give them any good scoring chances; our defense was very good. I have to give full credit to our defense, because I think they gave up one shot on goal the whole game.”

With the game headed to overtime, the Red wasted no time and immediately got to work, putting constant pressure on the Brown defense and finally making it crack a little over four minutes into the period (less than a minute after Kessler came back in to replace Aurigemma), with freshman standout Hannah Balleza tipping in a shot by Prodanovic.

“[Our victory] was definitely a team effort,” Hornibrook said, “but … we were without [senior co-captain] Kate Thompson. [Genevieve] Collins played her best game since she’s been at Cornell; she took some great plays on the left side of the midfield, she moved into the middle, and really did a nice job for us in the second half.”

Thompson agreed with Hornibrook, saying, “Genna [Genevieve] Collins had a phenomenal game. We initially had Hannah Balleza –– freshman –– starting at center mid, in my place). However, we needed her up front so Genna took over and she really stepped into her role and filled it exceptionally. She made me very proud.”

Next weekend the Red will play a home series against No. 5 Princeton and Villanova. While the team has already established how it likes to play the game, Hornibrook maintains that there are a few things her squad will need to work on to gear up for the first-place Tigers as well as the Wildcats.

“We know what our strengths are and we’re trying to focus on [them]; we’re just fine-tuning,” she said. “We’re trying to make our offensive penalty corner a little bit stronger and [because] we’re a team that likes to pass the ball, we’re trying to really work on our ball movement in practice.”

With Saturday’s win over Brown being the latest piece in the Red’s recent five-game win streak, Cornell has become red-hot as it enters the final stretch of the season, and is poised to make a run at the Ivy League title.

“The victory over Brown really sets us up nicely,” Thompson said. “It leaves the rest of the season in our control. Assuming we get the job done and we get our wins, we have a chance at sharing the Ivy League title and having those dreams of ours come true. What’s nice about the victory against Brown is that it leaves it in our control; we have to work, we have to perform, but there is no leaving it to chance. … I think that is a big motivation for us this week and we’ll be doing everything we can to play our best this weekend.”

Original Author: Zach Waller