Cornell Field Hockey (2-0, 0-0 Ivy) began its 2016 season with a dominant performance at home against Colgate (1-4, 0-0 Patriot) on Saturday.
After a few sluggish opening minutes, sophomore forward Kate Fitzpatrick started the scoring on a rebound goal.
“The first few minutes were a little shaky but then we started to settle down,” said Head Coach Donna Hornibrook. “Once we did, we started to move the ball that opened up some opportunities for us.”
Senior midfielder Elizabeth Horak added a goal right before halftime, but the Red really put things together in the second half. Cornell dominated possession and stifled Colgate’s offense, holding the Raiders to just three shot attempts.
Fitzpatrick and Horak both scored again in the second half, while freshman forward Taylor Reed scored the first goal of her Cornell career. The Red’s dominance up front was enough for a 5-0 victory.
Hornibrook was pleased with the team’s performance and noted the contributions made by substitutes.
“Elizabeth Horak came off the bench and scored two goals,” Hornibrook said. “She really showed her experience.”
Even though Cornell has many all-star caliber players, the team showed over the weekend that it has a deep roster.
On Sunday, Cornell rode its balanced approach to a 4-0 win over Lehigh (1-3, 0-0 Patriot).
“We had balanced scoring in both games over the weekend and our bench came in and made solid contributions,” Hornibrook said.
Although Cornell was able to notch another shutout against Lehigh, Hornibrook was impressed with Lehigh’s effort, which had Cornell back peddling at times.
“Lehigh played with a lot of heart and composure,” Hornibrook. “They pressed us, but I thought we handled the pressure well.”
Junior forward Krysten Mayers, who led Cornell in scoring last year, got on board with her first two goals of the season in the matchup with Lehigh. Meanwhile, Fitzpatrick continued her strong play, scoring her third goal of the season.
As dominant as the forward play was over the weekend, Cornell’s midfield was equally impressive.
“Everything starts with possessing the ball,” Hornibrook said. “Our whole midfield did an excellent job.”
The defensive performance was excellent as well. The backline limited scoring opportunities in both games. Hornibrook credited junior back Sam McIlwick for keeping the defense in great form.
“Sam Mcwilrick really showed some solid leadership and communication with that group,” Hornibrook said.
Even though the Red had a plus-nine goal differential over the weekend, Hornibrook still sees a lot of room for improvement.
“There were a few times when I thought we got away from some of the discipline that we want as a team,” Hornibrook said. “Overall we were able to regain that composure and discipline that we are looking for.”
Consistency is what the Cornell coaching staff is looking for. The Red will continue to fine-tune its line up in the coming weeks before Ivy League play begins. It is crucial that the Red is playing at its very best when league play rolls around.
Cornell continues its season at home against Ohio University on Friday night.