September 19, 2011

FIELD HOCKEY | Weekend Split Leaves Red at .500

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In the midst of this weekend’s Homecoming excitement, Cornell (3-3) was able to level its record after facing a difficult first Ivy League defeat, 1-0, on Saturday at Penn (1-4). The Red entered its matchup with the Quakers on the heels of three consecutive wins against the Ivy foe, but was unable to prevent Penn from earning its first win of the season.

The field hockey squad salvaged the weekend with a shutout win, 2-0, against St. Francis (1-6) on Sunday at home.

Senior co-captain and goalkeeper Alex Botte suggests that the Red was at a disadvantage from the outset, due to the condition of field on which the game was played.

“Because of how tough the surface was … the game had some unlucky passes and hits, and it was just really tough to adapt,” she explained. “It definitely wasn’t the best we could play, but given the huge barrier it is what it is, and we came back strong [against St. Francis].”

The game started strong for the Red, with sophomore forward Brittany Thompson making an early shot on goal. Quaker goalkeeper Kieran Sweeney was able to record the save, keeping the game tied. Soon after, the Red gained two penalty corners; however, Sweeney was able to ward off both attacks. The keeper made a total of six saves in the first half alone.

The Red’s third opportunity for a penalty corner fell short as well, keeping the game scoreless 26 minutes into the first half. Just one minute later, Penn freshman Emily Corcoran took a shot on Botte’s net, but pushed the ball wide. Corcoran would later find the back of the net in the second half.

Within one minute of each other, nearing the end of the half, junior forward Kat DiPastina and junior midfielder Katie Laventure each took a shot against Sweeney, with neither attempt making it past her defense.

The Red led the Quakers in shots, 6-2, but neither team was able to register a goal and the game went into the second half scoreless, 0-0.

Senior co-captain and forward Olivia Boyd notes that junior midfielder Genevieve Collins played a key role in the Red’s defense.

“Genna Collins really stepped up in a big way,” Boyd said. “She was a rock in our defense overall and she really handled the surface at Penn well.”

The second half started on a Penn advantage with two subsequent penalty corners by freshman Helene Caniglia. The corners kept rolling in for Penn as Caniglia converted on her third opportunity for a Penn goal.

Forward Julie Tahan secured the ball and went up against Botte, but was blocked. The Quakers scooped up the loose ball and took a shot, only to be thwarted by Botte once again.

It was only on the fourth penalty corner that Penn made its first and only goal. Corcoran, who received the ball from Caniglia, beat Botte in the 43rd minute of the game. Though both teams had their fair share of shots for the remaining minutes of the game neither was able to score, and the Quakers departed the field victorious after the first Ivy League contest of the young season.

Head coach Donna Hornibrook concedes that the Quakers played a very strong game.

“As far as Penn’s style … they were very opportunistic and we didn’t get it done. Consequently, it cost us the game,” she said.

“I would say that one of our strengths was that we pretty much controlled the game for the majority of the game, but we weren’t able to finish it,” Boyd added when asked about the team’s performance.

The Red finished the weekend with a win against St. Francis, which snapped a three-game losing streak.

The game started out with many early shots on goal by the Red Flash, with four by junior Kellie Mason in the first five minutes of play. Despite early struggles from the Cornell offense — in which the Red was unable to record any shots — six minutes into the game sophomore forward Hannah Balleza scored the team’s first goal on a rebound off the goalkeeper. This was the Red’s first goal since a score two weeks ago against Lock Haven.

“Hannah Balleza is a really good finisher. In the Penn game, she capitalized on all the little opportunities,” Botte said.

The Red later earned a penalty corner, which led to a shot by Laventure that went wide of the Red Flash’s sophomore goalkeeper Jill Dicola, who secured only one save while allowing two goals. On the other end of the field, Botte made eight outstanding saves to keep the Red ahead of its Ivy foe.

At 33:06, Balleza, who was Ivy League Co-Rookie of the Year in 2010, scored her second goal of the game, with an assist by DiPastina. With Cornell up by two, the Red went into the second half with plenty of confidence.

Hornibrook suggests that her squad put up a strong fight against the Red Flash, despite struggling to put up many shots.

“We didn’t create as many chances [against St. Francis], but we moved the ball pretty well and capitalized on the chances we had,” Hornibrook noted.

In the second half, the Red Flash bested Cornell in shots taken, though none of the visiting team’s forwards were able to find the back of the net. After a lot of back and forth play — with another shot by St. Francis’ Mason and several by freshman Nikki Snyder — the game concluded in a Cornell victory, ending the weekend on a high note.

“We learned that this wasn’t the end all be all weekend. We just need to work really hard for the game against Columbia,” Boyd said.

“I’m confident that the best is yet to come,” Hornibrook added.

On Saturday, the Red faces another Ivy League competitor, as Columbia joins the Red at 12 p.m. at Marsha Dodson Field.

Original Author: Alane Trafford