The Cornell field hockey team (2-2), coming off a two-loss weekend, will face two tough teams this week. First, on Saturday at noon, Cornell goes up against Ivy League foe Penn (0-3) at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pa. Then, on Sunday at 4 p.m., St. Francis University (1-4) visits Marsha Dodson Field in Ithaca to face the Red. Last weekend, the Red lost to both Vermont and Maine, 2-0, leveling its record at 2-2. This weekend, when the Red faces Penn and St. Francis, the team will look to reverse the trend and register two wins. The game against Penn will be the Red’s first Ivy contest of the season, setting the tone for games to come. At the moment, Penn is in the midst of a three-game losing streak after falling to Towson and Saint Joseph’s last weekend. In the last Cornell-Penn matchup, Cornell emerged with a shutout, 4-0, registering the team’s first Ivy win of 2010. Four different players scored for the Red, only one of whom remains on the team this season. Cornell created an intimidating offensive front in last year’s face-off, besting Penn in shots, shots on goal and penalty corners. Head coach Donna Hornibrook hopes the Red can replicate last year’s outcome this weekend, but acknowledges that it will be a tough opponent. “We know that [Penn] is always a team that comes to battle. Every Ivy game is the same — they are always competitive games,” Hornibrook said. This season, Penn’s lone scorers have been senior Kristin Snyder and sophomore Julie Tahan. Like Cornell, the Quakers have a very young team, with eight freshmen on their roster. Hornibrook is convinced that the Red is consistently improving, and is confident the squad will play a good defensive game this weekend. “The way we play, it’s very balanced; we’ve had different [players] step up on different days. Both goalkeepers have done a terrific job, and I’m very pleased with how [the team] is settling in with the midfield. We have been putting some focus on our defense, and obviously from an attack standpoint, we’re working on execution,” Hornibrook said. Senior captain and goalkeeper Alex Botte contends that the Red’s biggest challenge for the game against the Quakers will be adjusting to Penn’s home field. “They come from playing on a field turf, so it’s a lot different from the surface [we’re used to]. That has been our biggest challenge — adapting to the surface that they play on and how the ball moves … We have to find a way to come out with this first Ivy win,” Botte said. Following the Ivy showdown, the Red will face St. Francis at home. Cornell has come out a winners in both of its previous games against St. Francis. Like the Red, the Red Flash has lost its past two games, against Radford and Fairfield. It did, however, register a shutout win against Lehigh two weeks ago. At this point, the Red Flash’s leading scorer is freshman forward Autumn Pellman, registering six points in the past five games. Sophomore goalkeeper Jill DiCola has played in three of the games, earning a save percentage of .828 with 24 saves. In the other two games, senior Kelsey Gavigan was in goal and logged a .556 save percentage with 15 saves. In last year’s game, senior Katelyn Vitali defended the goal, allowing four goals and recording 11 saves. Junior Kellie Mason scored the lone goal for the Red Flash. Cornell earned an early lead from goals by current junior Genevieve Collins and sophomore Hannah Balleza. Sophomore Brittany Thompson also scored in the second half. Botte made six saves for Cornell and allowed only one goal. Senior captain Olivia Boyd suggests that the game against the Red Flash will reflect everything the Red learned from last weekend. “It was a close game last year, and they’re definitely a strong team. But we’ll try to work on the things we took from last weekend and make sure that we are the ones setting the tempo for the game,” Boyd said. Botte is confident that Cornell stands a good chance this weekend. “Our defense has really improved and we’re moving the ball pretty well. I think we will be a tough team to beat,” Botte said. Boyd also believes the Red will play its hardest this weekend, especially because it’s the start of league play. “Our main goal for this weekend is to start right from the whistle and have good intensity,” Boyd said.
Original Author: Alane Trafford