September 28, 2011

FIELD HOCKEY | Slumping Red Looks for First Ivy Win at Yale

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After two consecutive conference losses, interrupted by a victory against St. Francis, Cornell looks to step up its game this Saturday when the team travels to New Haven, Conn. to play Yale at noon. The Red has been working hard this week in practice to rise to the challenge that the Bulldogs will put forth. “[We’re] increasing intensity in practice, being more aggressive [and] getting done what needs to get done. If we continue to do this in the game, we will be all set,” said junior forward Kat Dipastina. Against Columbia, Cornell (3-4, 0-2 Ivy) competed strongly in the game, but had trouble finishing. “We need to finish — we had so many touches around the goal. A goal for the team [this weekend] is finishing,” said sophomore forward Brittany Thompson. Last weekend against Columbia, Cornell attempted 16 shots, but only one was converted into a goal. “We know that we’ve been close. We’ve been playing well enough to compete, but we’re not playing well enough to win. And the difference is our [attention to] details,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook of the past two conference games. “I think our play [so far] has been casual and we’ve lacked the attention to position and detail that our team is known for.”Yale (3-4 1-1 Ivy), which fell to defending Ivy League Champion Princeton last weekend, is a tough team, according to Dipastina. “Yale is always tough competition,” she said. “They’ve been on the rise for the past couple of years. I think that this year they are seeing themselves as one of the forerunners. Their attitude going into it is [going to be] pretty high.” Coach Hornibrook mentioned that the Red needs to watch out for Yale sophomore forward Erica Borgo, as well as senior midfielder Dinah Landshut, who are some of the Bulldogs’ go-to players.However, the women are determined to keep the focus on themselves and not worry about their opponent.“I go out there like they’re any other team,” Dipastina said.Aggressiveness and finishing are two main components the Red needs to improve upon so the squad can increase its competitiveness, according to Hornibrook.“Defensively, one of the things we need to do is … be more urgent, and we need to get back … in good marking position early because we’re not doing a good job on that. So off-ball defending needs to be better. The second thing I would say attack-wise is we have got to have our forwards be more aggressive in the circle. We’re really getting five corners per game and that’s not enough. I want to see our forwards taking care of the ball in the circle and getting more scoring opportunities. Our marking in our own circle and our attack play in our opponent’s circle has got to be a lot sharper than it is right now.”Dipastina is determined to follow her coach’s insight and get after the ball on Saturday.“We are going to be working a lot on our finishing,” she said. “When it comes to a game, it comes to wanting [the ball] … That’s where I’m going to be: in front of that cage going after that ball.”Thompson added that her goal for Saturday is to stay aggressive and have consistent intensity throughout the game.The desire to obtain a conference win only adds to the determination of the team. Cornell lost to Yale last season, 3-2, and tied the Bulldogs for second in the overall Ivy standings. Thompson mentioned how this fuels the team’s motivation.“We always want to get back to the team we lost to. This is going to be our third Ivy game, [which gives us] more fire under our belts to beat them.”“Knowing their history, there’s a desire. I’m definitely looking forward to playing them and giving them all I’ve got,” Dipastina added.Despite previous losses, the Red remains positive and takes its defeats as learning and improving opportunities.“I think it’s good to emphasize that even though our record doesn’t reflect it, we are improving as a team,” Thompson said. “I feel we’ve been very, very close, although we haven’t won. It would be a great confidence boost [to win] — Yale’s a good team,” Hornibrook mentioned. “Our team needs to compete more. We’ve had four second-place finishes in five years, and what’s gotten us there is our competitiveness.  What I’m looking for in this game is for us to step up and challenge ourselves.”

Original Author: Andrea Sielicki