Not only did Cornell field hockey’s 2-1 win over Dartmouth this weekend give head coach Donna Hornibrook win No. 300 in her career, but it also handed the senior class its 42nd victory as a group, leaving the band of five women tied with the classes of 2011 and 2017 as the all-time leaders in wins for a class.
“I was a little emotional in the locker room before the game, knowing I was about to walk onto the field for my last game,” said senior captain Isabel Josephs. “But you have to put those emotions aside and get the job done, especially because I wanted to end my career on a high note with a win.”
“As a group, this senior class was just phenomenal,” Hornibrook added. “During their time here, we achieved national rankings, and as a whole, they just always came to practice ready to compete. Definitely one of the best classes that we have ever had at Cornell.”
After Dartmouth knotted the game at one at the end of the first half, junior Gabby DePetro clinched the victory for the Red with a goal late in the second. Senior Kelly Johnson, who leaves the program as the all-time winningest goaltender in program history, got the start and was replaced by sophomore Maddie Henry in the second half.
A combination of their efforts in goal helped secure a major career milestone for their head coach.
“I honestly didn’t even realize that I was one win away from 300 entering the game Saturday,” Hornibrook said. “I was just focused on us getting one last Ivy League win to end the season.”
Looking at the season in general, this year also marks the fifth consecutive winning campaign for Hornibrook and the Red, who finish with a 10-6 record, 3-4 in the Ivy League.
The Red began the year with four-straight one-goal victories, but sputtered down the stretch, as the squad was unable to find a rhythm in the second half of its season.
“I felt like we weren’t that consistent this year,” Hornibrook said. “There were some really close games that we lost that we probably should have won, and those ultimately tilted the season for us.”
The loss that most haunts Hornibrook was an overtime defeat at the hands of Ivy rival Harvard, a team ranked No. 13 at the time. The head coach felt that despite the loss, it was the team’s best performance of the season and that the setback had negative ramifications for the rest of the year.
A theme throughout the year was the team’s inability to create shots on goal, and its reliance on the goaltending tandem of Johnson and Henry.
The dynamic duo, hailed by their head coach as the best in the country, combined to save over 79 percent of shots faced, holding opponents to just 1.43 goals per game and notching three shutouts.
But the team’s weakness came in lack of shots, predominantly stemming from the squad’s failure to generate corner opportunities. Opponents attempted 17 more corner attempts than the Red this season.
The Red was led in goals with six from the program’s all-time leading points scorer in senior Krysten Mayers. Two-time captain senior Sam McILwrick followed behind with five of her own.
Next season, Cornell will have to replace Mayers, McILwrick and Johnson, as well as the versatile Isabel Josephs and year’s third-leading goal scorer in Katie Carlson.
“I felt lucky to be a part of this team,” Josephs said. “I would not have been totally satisfied unless we had won the Ivy League and made it to the NCAA tournament, and I’m sure most of the team feels this way because we are competitors. But with all that aside, I think everybody brought their best every day, and I wouldn’t trade my relationships with my teammates for anything.”