Homecoming weekend brought out the best and the worst of the Cornell field hockey team, as it fell short to Penn but bounced back against Vermont.
The Red lost its first Ivy game of the season to Penn, 1-0. However, the women were nothing short of disappointed, according to head coach Donna Hornibrook.
The Quakers came out strong, scoring in the first eight minutes of the game.
“Full credit [to Penn’s] hustle, but I didn’t feel like we handled them well,” Hornibrook said. “We played arguably our poorest game of the season.”
Cornell was not the cohesive unit it has been in previous games. “We just didn’t play well,” Hornibrook added.
“The energy on the field was more frantic and it reflected in the way the team played,” said junior midfielder Isabel Josephs.
The women gave up eight penalty corners — their highest amount in one game for this season. “Eight [penalty corners] is a lot for us” Hornibrook said.
Although Penn was able to capitalize on one corner, the Red defended the other seven very well. One player who thrived, despite the play that sorrounded her, was junior goalkeeper Kelly Johnson.
“She kept us in the game when we were struggling in the circle,” Hornibrook said. “She has been playing some of her best field hockey I’ve seen to date.”
Even with their forceful defense, there was a lack of cohesiveness among the women.
“When we started doing individual things, we get into trouble,” Hornibrook said.
Despite the rocky start to the weekend, Cornell came out on Sunday a different team. By re-focusing on its strengths and maintaining its composure, the Red awoke ready to fight.
“Our whole mentality changed,” Hornibrook said. “We realized we had played poorly and let ourselves down on Saturday and the quality came out.”
This different mindset enabled Cornell to emerge victorious against Vermont, 4-1. Senior midfielder Elizabeth Horak, senior midfielder Katy Weeks, junior forward Gabby DePetro and sophomore forward and midfielder Kjerti Anderson all scored goals for the Red.
Horak recorded her third goal and first assist of the season and Hornibrook was impressed with her level of play and teamwork.
“Liz is a very smart player and is very inventive,” Hornibrook said. “She is definitely one of our most intelligent hockey players.”
Josephs also contributed, adding two key assists.
“I focused on getting more involved in the offensive team play because as a midfielder,” Josephs said. “I tend to be more defensive minded.”
These attacking passes and runs allowed Josephs to create offensive positions, ready and able to set up her teammates to give them the best opportunity to score.
Overall, Cornell had stepped up its game in the weekend’s second round.
“We had one of our best performances as a group so far this season,” Josephs said. “We prioritized our vision and making off-ball runs on the field to make ourselves available for passes from our teammates, and the results took care of itself.”
Hornibrook agreed, saying the team’s success arose from the women’s big pushback at the game’s get go, their ball movement and steady vision upfield.
“I am happy to see we were able to come back [from Saturday’s game] and show the quality we have,” Hornibrook said.
As the weekend ended on a high note, the Red hopes to continue its level of play against Columbia and Monmouth Friday and Sunday.