After struggling through a rebuilding season in 2011, the women’s field hockey team is poised and ready to rebound. With nine starters returning, the Red has a chance to return to its winning ways of two years ago, when the winningest class in women’s field hockey history led the squad to an 11-5 season.
The Red’s top two scorers from last season — junior Hannah Ballezza and sophomore Brittany Thompson — return to the starting lineup. Ballezza and Thompson accounted for 35 of the team’s 75 total points, Ballezza leading the way with seven goals and four assists. Anchoring the midfield position will be junior Mallory Bannon, who, along with Ballezza, was selected to the second-team All-Ivy last year. Bannon rounded out the top five in the Red’s scoring with six points on the season and was also the team’s defensive MVP.
Joining Bannon on the defensive end are backs Paige Mollineaux, Alexandra Robson and Keelin Bannon. All three were put into the starting lineup last season after the entire defensive starting lineup graduated in 2010. Junior Carolyn Horner will take over as the starting goalkeeper, replacing Alex Botte ’12, who was the Red’s all-time leader in career victories. This summer, Horner was selected by US Field Hockey to represent Pennsylvania at the Women’s National Championship. In seven appearances in the net last season, Horner finished with a 2-1 record and a 1.47 goals against average.
Facing a tough 2012 schedule, the Red will have to battle two teams who played in the 2011 NCAA tournament. Five of the Red’s first seven games on their schedule will be on the road, where they will face off against powerhouse programs in North Carolina and Penn State. This will be the first time the Red is up against the Tar Heels, who made it to the NCAA championship game last season.
Ivy play kicks off on Sept. 15 when the Red will take on Penn at home, followed by matchups with Columbia, Yale and Harvard. Cornell also looks to snap a streak of four straight losses to Princeton on Oct. 27 when it faces the Tigers at home. Coming off a 1-6 finish in conference play last season, the Red has the experience in a starting lineup full of returning players to make a successful turnaround.
Original Author: Scott Chiusano