October 24, 2012

FIELD HOCKEY | Cornell Aims to End Strong

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The Cornell field hockey team endured a tough loss to Brown in its last matchup, looks to get back on a winning track in contests with Princeton (13-1, 5-0 Ivy League) and Holy Cross (2-12, 1-3 Patriot League) this weekend. The Red (7-7, 3-2 Ivy League) had been on a six game winning streak prior last game’s defeat and now has only three regular season games left to play. According to senior back Paige Mollineaux, the long winning streak has given the team determination to finish the season strong.“It obviously felt good to win six games in a row, so now our goal is to have the next three games be a winning streak again,” she said.The matchup against the Tigers on Saturday afternoon at Marsha Dodson Field is of particular importance to the Red. Princeton currently sits in first place in the Ivy League and is undefeated in Ivy League play — in order for the Red to have a chance of winning the Ivy League title, it must defeat the Tigers on Saturday. However this is no simple task. Princeton is currently riding a six game winning streak, with four shutouts over that span. According to junior forward Hannah Balleza, Cornell recognizes the difficulty of this matchup and has diligently prepared to counter Princeton’s strengths in practice.

“We changed around our formation a little bit because they have two very strong midfield players, so it will be important for us to lock them down so they don’t get the ball,” she said. “We will also apply a lot of pressure to them because we’ve watched video and that seems to be what kind of messes them up.”

“This will be a very hard challenge for us,” Mollineaux added. “They’re a very skilled team.”

According to Mollineaux, both stand-out individual performances and great team play are the recipe for the Tigers’ success.

“They have three international players that are very talented,” she said. “One of them, their center, is the core of their team and is very strong. But they are also a good passing team and like to move the ball a lot, and that is one of their strengths.”

In contrast to Princeton, Holy Cross has struggled all season long and has lost four consecutive games. It is also an out-of-conference game, carrying less significance than Ivy League matchups. Still, according to Balleza, the Red is focusing on that game and will not take it lightly.

“It will [be] better in a way once we’re done with the Princeton game because there’s a lot of pressure right now for us to perform well,” she said.  “After that game we’ll be able to focus on just the Holy Cross game, and our coaches always stress how important each game is. So there is no doubt we will come out strongly for the Holy Cross game.”

With a six game winning streak as proof of its potential, the Red is a confident team heading into the season’s final stretch. However, according to Mollineaux, overconfidence contributed to the team’s loss to Brown, so Cornell will make sure to not be overconfident heading into the next few games.

“We obviously have confidence but I think that going into the Brown game, that was part of the reason why we lost, because maybe we didn’t take them as seriously as we should have,” she said. “We know because of all the games we’ve won that we are a good team and we’re capable of winning. So we have confidence now, but being able to beat Princeton would give us the ultimate level of confidence. This game against Princeton is something that we’ve been talking about and working towards all season.”

Original Author: Ben Horowitz