September 5, 2011

FIELD HOCKEY | Season Opens on High Note With Consecutive One-Goal Victories

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Talk about getting off to a fast start. The Red (2-0) had a victory-filled first weekend of the season, topping two aggressive teams in a pair of exciting games. The field hockey team first edged out Big East foe Villanova (1-2) on Friday in a narrow victory, 1-0, and then followed up that performance with a win over Lock Haven (1-3) on Sunday, 3-2. The games occurred at the Training Center in Spring City, Pa. and Ithaca’s Marsha Dodson Field, respectively.

The Red kicked off its season playing an aggressive Villanova team that out-shot Cornell, 13-9. The beginning of the first period was filled with aggressive shot-taking by both teams — most notably Villanova’s Jessica Swoboda and Olivia Maggitti, who registered two shots apiece. However, neither of them could score on Cornell’s sophomore goalkeeper Carolyn Horner in her first career start.

Head coach Donna Hornibrook hopes that Horner’s performance in her first game as a starter  is a sign of good things to come for the rest of the season.

“Carolyn Horner showed incredible poise in the Villanova game — her first career start. She made some key saves early in the game that kept us in, and once [junior midfielder Genevieve Collins] scored a big goal for us that … shifted the pressure onto them,” Hornibrook said.

“[Horner] did a great job, especially in the opening weekend of the season,”added senior forward and co-captain Olivia Boyd. “She had a very strong presence in goal — I was really impressed.”

Collins scored the first and only goal of the game at 20:16 on a penalty corner shot, assisted by freshman back Ann DiPastina and sophomore forward Hannah Balleza.

The second period consisted of a lot of back and forth play, with two penalty corners for Cornell and three for the Wildcats; however, none of these efforts produced any goals. By the end of the game Horner recorded seven saves, while her Villanova counterpart Megan Goelz only stopped four of Cornell’s shots on target and allowed the winning goal.

Junior forward Kat DiPastina notes that Cornell’s defensive unit was key in Friday night’s success.

“In the Villanova game, there were a few key clears from the defense,” DiPastina said. “They could really see where the holes were by the second half, so we could get the ball into the holes and try to get an upfield attack.”

On Sunday, when Cornell played Lock Haven, the Red faced a challenging squad, but ultimately earned a late comeback win.

The Lady Eagles earned an early lead 4:10 into the first period. Senior Najia Hasan was able to find the back of the net on a cross pass from senior Leslie Ahern.

Hornibrook acknowledges that Lock Haven set the tone of the game in the first half.

“Honestly, we’ve got a pretty young team and I feel like we were playing nervous,” she said. “I’m not sure that we came mentally prepared, and we fell a little flat in the first half.”

For the rest of the first period, Lock Haven played an extremely aggressive game, keeping Cornell on the defensive for much of the contest. The Eagles dominated in corners, 10-5, leading Cornell in the category for the entire game. Horner faced five shots in the first period, while Lock Haven’s Lindsay Staufenberg saw only one.

“We turned it around in the second half and it was noticeable how much people composed themselves and took that extra second to get the ball where they wanted it to be,” DiPastina said.

Balleza tied up the game at 37:09  on an assist by sophomore forward Brittany Thompson. After Lock Haven gained possession and attempted several shots, DiPastina was able to tip the ball into the net thanks to an assist from Balleza. DiPastina showed great speed throughout the entire game, easily outrunning many of Lock Haven’s players.

The Eagles received a brief morale boost after finding the back of the net — or so they thought. The score was short lived as the referees called the goal back and ruled that it did not count.

With Cornell leading, 2-1, sophomore midfielder Mallory Bannon earned an unassisted goal at 54:21, only to see the Eagles launch a comeback of their own within the next three minutes on a goal from senior Kristi Shepps. Lock Haven’s second goal was ultimately not enough to get them a win, as Cornell emerged victorious 3-2.

Boyd asserts no one person did all the work this weekend. Attaining these wins was a team effort.

“[The game on Sunday] was a great example of a lot of people stepping up from when we were behind,” Boyd explained. “It says a lot about the team that four different people scored this weekend. It shows that we’re a versatile team and that any one person can step up.”

DiPastina also suggests that Cornell’s strong comeback says a lot about the team’s abilities.

“When we were at home, it was hard when the other team got a goal advantage before us,” she said. “It instills confidence in me that our team was able to come back and win that game. It shows that we have the persistence and tenacity that a lot of teams do not.”

Overall, this weekend showed how versatile the team can be and how much talent it has, according to Hornibrook.

“What I was happy about was that different people were [contributing] on different days,” she said. “I think that is what we’re going to be seeing all year because this is a balanced, team-oriented group. On any given day, anyone can step up.”

The Red’s next game will take place on Saturday against Vermont at 2 p.m. in Burlington, Vt.

Original Author: Alane Trafford