After picking up its first victory of the season last Sunday in its home opener against Rider, Cornell field hockey was unable to continue to turn the corner on its slow start to the season in a pair of weekend losses.
The Red (1-5) was defeated by both Maine and Vermont this past weekend at the Catamount Classic in Burlington, Vermont.
Throughout its season, the Red has struggled with allowing opponents easy penalty corner opportunities and has been outshot in every game this season.
This trend continued Friday against Maine, as the Black Bears outshot Cornell 24-3 and attempted 13 penalty corners, while the Red only had two. This differential was more pronounced in the first half, as Cornell had no shots or penalty corners, while Maine had 17 shots and 10 corners.
Maine used their first-half advantage to get out to an early 3-0 lead, and the Black Bears never looked back, eventually defeating the Red, 5-0. Maine came into the contest 5-0 on the season with wins over two top-25 teams and a plus-29 goal differential.
“We had some good attacks against Maine, but ultimately, we just had way too much trouble getting the ball out of our backfield to have a good outcome against a quality team,” said head coach Steve Simpson.
After what the coaching staff deemed a successful practice Saturday, the team had the opportunity to earn a weekend split against the host school, Vermont, on Sunday. Like the Red, the Catamounts had not gotten off to a strong start this season.
Following a scoreless first half, Cornell struck first on a goal by freshman Claire Jones, her second of the season. But the Red was unable to hold on to its lead for long, as Vermont evened the score just eight minutes later. The Catamounts scored the game-winning goal soon thereafter, leaving the Red with its fifth loss of the year.
“Against Vermont, we really controlled much of the game,” Simpson said. “But during a crucial time, we let them counterattack from one of our penalty corners and score a goal. Then they scored a goal off of their penalty corner. We didn’t make the proper reads defensively on a corner that we watched them practice right before the game.”
The silver lining for the Red in this contest was that it was the first game of the season in which Cornell both outshot and had more penalty corners than its opponent.
“We had good fight and good purpose, but we didn’t get the result that we needed to get from that game,” Simpson said. “At a certain point, we are 1-5, we have to do some different things, and we have to have some different preparation and commitment from all of us, including myself, to getting our team to play in a way that I know we are capable of playing.”
But ultimately, after an 0-2 weekend, the team is left with more questions than answers, and Simpson remarked that there would be several personnel and schematic changes as a result.
Through six games, Cornell has been outshot 88-46 and has allowed opponents to score 17 times, while the Red have just five goals on the year. Jones and junior Maddy Conklin have two goals apiece, while Kirsten Pienaar has scored once this season.
The Red will look to improve upon its early season struggles as it opens Ivy League play this Saturday against Penn at Dodson Field. Penn will enter the matchup 3-3; the Quakers were able to earn a 1-0 season-opening win over No. 14 Wake Forest in double overtime. Last year, the Quakers defeated the Red in Philadelphia, 2-0.