October 3, 2011

FIELD HOCKEY | Yale Makes History in Blowout Victory

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Yale lived up to its reputation as an offensive juggernaut, breaking down the usually tight Red defense on Saturday in New Haven, Conn. The Bulldogs (4-5, 2-1 Ivy) handily defeated the Red (3-5, 0-3 Ivy) en route to an important Ancient Eight victory, 7-2. Not only was it the most lopsided win for the Bulldogs against Cornell in the last 30 years, but it was also the worst loss for the Red since losing to Princeton 10-1 in 2009.

Yale set the tone from the first whistle, scoring in the ninth minute and scoring twice more within a four-minute period later on in the first half to take a commanding lead at halftime, 3-0. The Bulldogs amassed an impressive 19 shots and 10 penalty corners in the half, compared with the Red,who only managed one shot and one penalty corner. The three goals surrendered by halftime equaled the number of scores the team had given up to Columbia the previous weekend — the most allowed by Cornell all season.

Head coach Donna Hornibrook noted that Yale possessed the best offense her team had seen all season — a very attack-oriented offense with skilled players and a fast-paced transition game.

The second half started promising for the Red with two goals scored within the first five minutes of the half — one each by sophomore forwards Brittany Thompson and Christine Hibler.

According to senior goalkeeper and co-captain Alex Botte, a few words from freshman midfielder/forward Jamie Trout inspired the team to score these goals.

“We were down 3-0, and when we came out in that second half, one of our freshmen had said … ‘pretend like you have two minutes to score a goal,’ and we scored two goals in a matter of five minutes,” Botte explained.

Yale, however, quickly killed any momentum the Red had built, connecting on four goals within a 10-minute stretch soon after Hibler’s score.

Three of those four goals came off penalty corners, a result of the Bulldogs generating 17 penalty corners in the game — seven more than the Red allowed all season.

Hornibrook acknowledged that Yale has a very good penalty corner unit, but maintains that the Red needs to do a better job defending in these situations.

“My biggest concern has been not just giving a corner against us because that will happen, but it’s the fact that we’ve not been able to clear the zone consistently,” she said. “We’ve given up a series of penalty corners where … we have a chance to clear it, and for whatever reason we aren’t able to do that.”

It was an unusual performance for Botte, who came into the game with a save percentage of .829 — the second-lowest mark in the nation. The co-captain managed only eight saves on 15 shots by the Bulldogs.

“There were a few goals that I should have had,” Botte said. “I was disappointed in my performance, but at the same time I have to hand it to Yale … they really took advantage of the 14 or 15 [corners] that they had.”

Both Hornibrook and Botte agreed that the Bulldogs’ corners were very skillfully executed.

Senior forward/midfielder and co-captain Olivia Boyd added that the team needs to make certain adjustments defensively going forward.

“We need to be tweaking a couple things on defense,” she explained. “Generally just cleaning up some of the little things. One of the things we learned from Yale was that they have really right receptions. All their passes were stick to stick and although we played with a lot more enthusiasm and passion in our game, still some of the little things were lacking.”

Botte also noted the passion that the Red showed in the game.

“We did better in demanding more of each other, and there was more passion than I’ve ever seen on the field in any of our other games so I think that that was good,” she said. “We had forwards sprinting back and playing defense in the circle, and everyone just wanted it and I don’t think the score is very reflection of our commitment to winning.”

Up next for the Red is a matchup with Colgate (4-7, 0-1 Patriot League) Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Marsha Dodson Field.

The Raiders have a weak offense, averaging almost 1.5 goals per game — slightly better than Cornell’s numbers. Despite allowing slightly more than three goals per game, the Raiders’ primary goalkeeper, freshman Amanda DiDomizio, has compiled a solid save percentage of .760.

The Red has defeated Colgate in each of the last three years, holding a slight  advantage against the Raiders all-time, 19-18-1.

Botte, who emphasized Yale’s ability to regain momentum in the second half, believes the Red needs to play similarly in order to be successful against Colgate.

“We need to be less reactive when we come out on the field … We need to come out and set the tone,” she said.

Hornibrook remains optimistic that the character of her team will allow the Red to pull things together and be successful going forward.

“The work ethic, the attitude and the commitment our players are showing is there, and when you have that we can work with that,” she said.

Original Author: Brian Bencomo