November 7, 2010

Field Hockey Squad Ends Season With a 4-2 Victory

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The Cornell field hockey team (11-5, 5-2 Ivy League) ended its season on a winning note Saturday afternoon at Marsha Dodson Field, beating Ivy rival Dartmouth (10-7, 3-4 Ivy League) by a score of 4-2. The 11-5 overall record is tied with the 2008 squad for the best in school history. With Yale losing to Brown, Cornell finishes the season in second place in the Ivy League for the second time in four years. In fact, this senior class has never finished outside the top three in conference play, amassing a record of 42-22 overall and 20-8 in the Ivy League –– making this class the winningest class in Cornell history.

The Red opened up the scoring just a minute into the game when senior midfielder Mattie Prodanovic scored on a penalty corner off of a give-and-go assisted by fellow senior midfielder and co-captain Kate Thompson. Playing in her last game for Cornell, Thompson spoke about how tough playing in this game was.

“It was an emotional ride. I really wanted to play it out because I love this team and I have enjoyed playing with them the whole season, but it was also tough because it was the last game,” she said.

The Green evened up the score 22 minutes later to knot the score going into halftime, but the Red asserted itself early in the second half. Senior attacker Catie De Stio scored six and a half minutes into the half, off a good pass across the top of the circle from freshman attacker Mallory Bannon. The goal was De Stio’s 12th of the season, giving her not only a career-best 29 points on the season but also a school record 94 points for her career, one more than Cari Hills ’98 had during her time at Cornell. De Stio credited the entire team for enabling her to reach this milestone.

“I got the help of my entire team,” she said. “If that ball hadn’t been there up the field, I would never had made that shot. … Our team just works so well together that they make it possible for everyone on the team to do really well.”

Just over five minutes later, freshman attacker Hannah Balleza made the score 3-1, tipping a shot by senior back and co-captain Sara Sanders into the net. Just as De Stio had put the finishing touches on her career with the goal just minutes before, Balleza ended her outstanding rookie season with that goal –– her 10th on the year, third best all-time for a Cornell rookie.

What might have been a comfortable, 3-1, lead was cut to one just about a minute after Balleza’s goal by Dartmouth’s Virginia Peisch. The score would hold until just under 10 minutes to go in the game when sophomore attacker Kat DiPastina made the score 4-2 on a breakaway chance.

The game ended with the Red defense limiting the third-best offensive team in the nation to only nine shots and seven penalty corners and junior goalkeeper Alex Botte stopping five of the Green’s seven shots on goal. Meanwhile, a usually meek Cornell offense scored a season-high four goals –– a feat matched three previous times this season.

With the season over, Thompson spoke about what it felt like to walk off the field as part of the winningest class in school history.

“It is an awesome feeling. Our coach has always said that one of her philosophies is for her classes to leave the program in better shape than it was when they arrived, and I think that we have achieved that as a class. … I just wish we had another six months as a team because if we kept improving the way we have been we would be unstoppable,” she said.

Original Author: Brian Bencomo