In its opening game on Friday at Lock Haven, (1-0-0) the Red lost a tight contest, 2-1, in overtime. Cornell was easily handled by No. 2 North Carolina, 6-1, in its home opener the following day. These games left the team feelings of disappointment but also experiences to learn from in order to improve, according to junior forward Hannah Balleza.
“It was definitely disappointing, not the way we wanted to start off the season,” she said. “But its a work in progress for us, and I know we’ve learned about things that we need to work on.”
On Friday, the game against the Eagles was scoreless until the final fifteen minutes of play, when Lock Haven took a 1-0 lead. The Red came back to tie the game four minutes later on a goal from Balleza. The game went to overtime, where the Eagles netted the winner in the tenth minute of overtime. This loss was particularly tough for the Red to swallow, because it had a potential game-winning goal called back by the referees.
“Friday’s game was very disappointing, especially because we had the game-winning goal called back by a referee that was over 50 yards away from the play,” said senior back Paige Mollineaux.
In Saturday’s contest against the Tar Heels, Cornell was victimized by three goals in the first 10 minutes of the game, one coming just 30 seconds after play started. According to Mollineaux, the team had energy to start the game, but the defense failed to thwart North Carolina’s attack.
“Its always hard to start off a game being down by three,” she said. “You almost never win a game starting off like that. There was energy there, but it came down to the defense.”
The Tar Heels went on to defeat the Red, 6-1.
“At the start of the game everyone was kind of hesitant,” Balleza added. “On defense we were kind of just waiting, and we were letting people dribble into the circle and just take shots, which normally we wouldn’t do. But we picked it up as the game went on, which was a good sign.”
Freshman goaltender Carolyn Horner showed some impressive play on Friday night against Lock Haven. She kept the Eagles off the board for most of the game, during which the Red was outshot 18-7 and was constantly on the defensive in the face of Lock Haven’s offensive pressure.
“I think she did very well,” Mollineaux said. “She must have been pretty nervous being that she’s a freshman and she got thrown into the first game of the season, but I think she did an excellent job. She made a lot of saves.”
According to Balleza, seeing the team pick up its play as both games progressed was another encouraging sign.
“As the games went on our ball movement got a lot better and we started to play more as a team,” she said.
The Red will work to improve before its next game on Wednesday at Bucknell. According to Mollineaux, better communication and passing are two areas that deserve particular attention.
“We need to focus on communication, especially in the backfield but also everywhere else, and on ball speed,” she said. “The passing needs to be stronger.”
According to Balleza, the team will focus on playing more aggressively as it prepares for Wednesday’s game.
“We’re going to focus on being more proactive instead of reactive, taking the game into our own hands, and playing like we should and normally do,” she said.
Original Author: Ben Horowitz