Dana Daniels | Sun Staff Photographer

The Red is set to battle Yale and Syracuse, the defending national champions.

October 6, 2016

Field Hockey Hopes to Derail Defending National Champions

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With 10 games under its belt, Cornell field hockey is looking to pick up momentum for the remainder of the season. However, the women are in for a challenging weekend, preparing to face Yale and Syracuse.

Yale is currently on a three-game losing streak. However, the Red will not let this record affect its plan for Saturday.

“We don’t spend any time thinking about that,” said head coach Donna Hornibrook. “We are focused on our own team and preparation.”

In the 2015 season, Cornell played Yale and emerged victorious, 1-0.

According to the NCAA Division I standings, the Bulldogs are ranked 51st, nine places below the Red. However, the women are not letting this ranking go to its head.

“We are taking each game as an opportunity to build,” said junior forward Katie Carlson. “We have been looking at each game we play to be of equal importance.”

If the Red focuses on maintaining its team defense and attack, Hornibrook believes it will have a successful weekend.

“Consistency is going to be the biggest aspect,” she said.

Both Cornell and Yale have average shots per game statistics that are 0.1 point away from one another (14.2 and 14.1, respectively).

Carlson is the Red’s top scorer. With seven goals on the season, she has earned the team 16 points.

“I am fortunate to have great teammates, who work together to score,” she said.

Carlson may be the highest scoring player for Cornell. However, the majority of the players have made a contribution. Twelve out of the 15 field players have either scored or assisted on a goal this season.

“With so many capable of scoring, we keep our opponents’ defense honest,” Carlson said.

The Red will focus on harnessing these skills against No. 3 Syracuse this Sunday.

“Its exciting to face competitive teams,” Carlson said. “Syracuse is a very skilled team, and we have the opportunity to improve when playing against good competition like them.”

Hornibrook had only positive comments when asked about the Syracuse field hockey program.

“They are a very good team,” she said. “They are a very competitive group of girls and have had a lot of success.”

After falling short to the Orange 9-1 last season, the Red intends to come out fighting.

“Last year, we played them nearly even in the first half,” Carlson said. “We have been building our fitness and endurance and have seen the results this season in our second half performances.”

Syracuse is a force to be reckoned with this season. It has gone 10-1, falling short only to North Carolina 3-2 on Sept. 23. Since then, it has maintained a three game winning streak; Cornell will have to bring its A-game to put up a fight.

“They are going to challenge us [and] we know that,” Hornibrook said. “They are going to push us to the max.”

One aspect the women will focus on is keeping the Orange’s high shot record under control. Syracuse has averaged 19.3 shots per game this season, which is more than any other team the Red has faced this season.

Hornibrook is not fearful and believes the statistics will not determine the outcome of any game.

“That’s all on paper,” she said. “What is really important is that the game is full of opportunities, and we want to be alert as a team and play consistent hockey in order to create and take advantage of as many opportunities as possible.”

The women are confident and ready for the challenge of playing a top team this coming weekend. Cornell will play Yale on Saturday at noon and Syracuse on Sunday at 3 p.m. in Ithaca.