October 17, 2011

FIELD HOCKEY | Red Unable to Secure First Ivy League Win

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In search of its first Ivy League victory and looking to climb above the .500 mark, the field hockey team earned a split in its two home games at Dodson Field over the weekend. The Red (6-7, 0-4 Ivy League) lost another tough conference game, 3-1, against the rival Harvard Crimson (7-5, 3-1) on Saturday, but bounced back on Sunday to secure a 4-2 victory over the visiting Georgetown Hoyas (2-13, 0-3 Big East).The defeat against Harvard was compounded by the loss of top-scorer Hannah Balleza, who left the game early due to injury. The sophomore attacker was struck in the face by a ball just five minutes into the contest resulting in a mild concussion. Balleza sat out the rest of the game and did not play the following day.Despite losing Balleza the Red consistently attacked the Crimson goal in the first half, out-shooting Harvard, 10-6.“It was tough that [Balleza] got injured so early in the game because she’s a huge part of our offense,” said senior goalkeeper and co-captain Alex Botte. “But at the same time I think that we picked it up really well … it’s nice that we have such depth in our forward bench that we can easily, not make up for Hannah’s offense, but we can go on without it.”Botte pointed to freshman forward Katherine Stone’s goal late in the contest — the second of her career — which tied the score at one, as proof of the quality of the team’s offensive line.It was a tight matchup for most of the game, and head coach Donna Hornibrook believes that her team played very well against the Crimson.“Yesterday was about momentum, and I really felt like we carried the play,” she said. “I thought we were playing really, really well … when they got the goal really late in the first half that gave them for sure a boost.”The game looked like it would go scoreless into halftime until an opportunity in front of the Cornell goal with under two minutes to go nearing the break resulted in a chance for Harvard to capitalize on a penalty stroke. In an odd turn of events the play led to a second serious injury in the game — this one affecting a Crimson player. According to The Crimson, Paige Haley may have suffered a concussion pending diagnosis after becoming entangled with the defense. Harvard’s Georgia McGillivray converted on the resultant penalty stroke to put the Crimson up at halftime, 1-0.After Stone scored early in the second half, the game remained tied until the 60th minute. With just over 10 minutes to go in the game, Harvard scored on a penalty corner, putting in the rebound after one of Botte’s seven saves. About five minutes later the Crimson sealed the game with another goal on a 2-on-1 breakaway.The loss guaranteed the Red its first losing record in Ivy play since 2004 — Hornibrook’s first year as the team’s head coach.With a contingent of the band as well as dozens of high school girls participating in a clinic after the game in attendance, Sunday’s matchup with Georgetown was a different story, as the team scored two goals before the chairs had even been warmed. Cornell netted four scores by halftime.“We were really hyped going into the weekend and were looking to take our first Ivy win, so I feel like after things didn’t go our way yesterday we were really hungry, ready to set the tone today,” said senior forward and co-captain Olivia Boyd regarding Sunday’s effort.Boyd scored two goals on the day, registering Cornell’s second score in the ninth minute and recording the fourth in the 26th minute. Hornibrook characterized both goals as “hustle goals” — a testament to Boyd’s hunger to get the win.Sophomore forward Brittany Thompson scored the team’s first goal on a penalty corner, and assisted Boyd’s first goal just two minutes later. Junior forward Kat DiPastina scored the team’s other goal on a 1-on-1 breakaway. The Hoyas scored one goal in each half, but could not muster enough offense to avoid its 10th consecutive loss.Botte felt that the team’s effort on Sunday was comparable to the squad’s performance a day earlier against Harvard, but that the differing results can be attributed to how the team took advantage of scoring opportunities against Georgetown in the non-conference affair. Hornibrook believes the level of play in the Ivy League is quite competitive. The current standings show Harvard in a five-way tie for first place with a 3-1 conference record.The Red remains in Ithaca this weekend for another round of back-to-back matchups against an Ivy and non-conference team. The Red will play Brown (3-9, 0-4) on Saturday at 12 p.m. and Rutgers (4-10, 2-3) on Sunday at 1 p.m.Saturday will feature a battle between the only two teams yet to win an Ivy game. Like the Red, the Bears also have a weak offense, with both teams averaging about 1.6 goals per game. Brown allows over 3.5 goals per game, while the Cornell defense averages just over 2.0 goals against per contest.Rutgers has posted similar offensive and defensive numbers compared to Cornell. The Scarlet Knights come to Ithaca to play their second game against an Ivy team this season, the first of which resulted in a loss at Columbia, 2-1. Cornell is 2-0 against Big East teams this season, with wins against Villanova and Georgetown.

Original Author: Brian Bencomo