Cornell’s field hockey team is looking to finish off its last two games of the season strong.
So far, the Red has posted an 8-7 record including a 2-3 Ivy League record. The team is currently ranked 39th in the NCAA Division I standings and fourth in the Ivy League, two places lower than where the women finished off last year’s season.
It may not have been the season Cornell expected, but the women are learning from their mistakes and continuing to move forward, according to junior co-captain Sam McILwrick.
“The season has been challenging,” McILwrick said.“We haven’t gotten the results we’ve wanted but I’m also really proud of the team.”
Head coach Donna Hornibrook said she agrees, commenting that the year has been a bit of a roller coaster.
“[The season] has been mixed,” said Hornibrook. “There has been some really positive things and good periods of play where we show the quality we want to bring. But sometimes that wasn’t there.”
Junior goalkeeper Kelly Johnson said that, despite the back-and-forth results, the team’s effort has been present in each game this season.
“We are always fighting no matter if we are winning or losing so I think this season has been going pretty well,” Johnson said.
Cornell currently averages 2.81 goals per game and has a shot-on-goal percentage of 65 percent. The team’s leading player in goals and points is junior forward Katie Carlson. Junior forward Krysten Mayers is leading in both number of assists and shots-on-goal.
With two Ivy League games left, the women are looking to improve their work in practice with hopes of finishing above .500 in the conference.
“Process dictates outcome” Hornibrook said, “so how the [rest of the] season goes will be dictated during our process and how we practice and prepare.”
Johnson mentioned that the practices from the defensive unit have been consistently strong. According to the junior, the defense has been consistently acting as one strong unit and the quality of play the freshman players have demonstrated is remarkable for a group so young.
“They’re incredible workers and contributors, on and off the field,” Johnson said. “A thing that most impresses me is that they’re not scared to get into a game and play against really experienced college players.”
McILwrick, one of the veterans on the team, similarly praised the freshmen’s poise, despite their relative inexperience.
“[Midfielder] Maddy Conklin and [back] Rose Gorski have played major minutes,” McILwrick said. “Rose is very composed at the back and Maddy is such a work horse.”
In addition to the newcomers, Hornibrook mentioned McILwrick and senior midfielder Katy Weeks as standout players this season.
“Sam has had an outstanding season,” Hornibrook said. “She joined the attack more than previous years and it has improved our overall game. And Katy is a workhorse. There is no doubt about it.”
McILwrick has three goals and four assists so far this year. In 2014, she was named to the all-Ivy second team. Weeks was twice named second team all-Ivy before earning first team honors last year.
Despite the handful of strong players, Hornibrook remarked that the team has not been driven by individuals.
“We have had different kids step up at different moments throughout the season,” Hornibrook said, “but it has been a team effort all the way.”
That teamwork was on display in the squad’s 2-1 victory over Yale . Looking back on the season so far, the Bulldogs game was the most enjoyable, according to both Johnson and McILwrick.
“[It] was the most fluid,” McILwrick said. “Our ball movement and awareness was some of the best we’ve seen so far.”
Johnson praised the team effort and perseverance it took to secure that win.
“It was the first game this season that we came back to win after the other team scored first,” Johnson said. “Everyone from me to the forwards to our subs had to contribute to help the entirety of our team win.”
For Hornibrook, the most consistent quality level of play from the Red came in the game against Vermont in which Cornell won, 4-1.
With just two games remaining for the season, Hornibrook said she hopes the Red finishes strong, setting the stage for an improved 2017 campaign.
“The girls are focused and ready to play these last games with everything they have, ”Hornibrook said.
Cornell will take on Princeton and Dartmouth to finish off the season.