Having failed to land a single goal against an Ivy competitor all season, Cornell field hockey traveled to take on Brown last Saturday in the eager hopes of snapping that regrettable streak. But after scoring two unresponded goals in the second half, the Bears dashed those ambitions — instead extending the Red’s conference losing spell to four games.
While Brown (6-8, 1-4) had a leading edge in shots (6-3) by the end of the first half, both Cornell and the Bears’ defenses were able to mount successful resistance. Late in the half, junior goalkeeper Maddie Henry warded off a shot from Gina Openshaw, while, just moments later, Brown’s goalkeeper Katie Hammaker thwarted a shot attempt by senior midfielder Gabby Depreto from the top of the circle.
In the second half, while both teams had an even number of shots (7-7), the Red failed to convert any of its scoring chances to goals, allowing Brown to claim a 2-0 lead.
“When you start scoring on chances, that builds your confidence and that makes your ratio of converting improve, so our past history this season of not creating chances this season becomes an Achilles heel on days when we actually do create chances,” said head coach Stephen Simpson.
The Bears also led the Red in penalty corners (5-3), which proved a lethal blow to Cornell’s chances.
In the 37th minute of the standstill game, junior midfielder Kirsten Pienaar saved a penalty corner shot by Brown’s Hannah Leckey. However, the ball failed to exit the circle, allowing Emma Rosen to quickly take advantage of the rebound and notch the first goal of the game.
The Red looked to balance the score, but its fierce efforts proved futile against Brown’s seemingly impenetrable defense. Hammaker shut down Pienaars’ shot attempts to maintain the 1-0 lead for the Bears. Freshman forward Isabel Windham met the same resistance from the goalkeeper, who registered four overall saves to complete the shutout.
In the 58th minute, Brown’s Rachel Lanouette, assisted by Hannah Leckey and Maddie Ayles, capitalized on a penalty corner to score the final goal of the game, ensuring victory for the Bears. The loss means the Red now owns the Ivy League’s worst record — a noticeable drop for a team that last year finished fifth in the conference.
While Cornell has struggled mightily against its peers, Simpson said the loss was due to important, but ultimately fixable, errors.
“Our penalty corner defensive unit that usually plays really well made a couple of skill errors which led to their two goals,” Simpson said. “But those skill errors are things that we can improve. As far as our team play goes, our recognition, our energy, our purpose, were excellent, but the outcome just did not match.”
The Red returns home on Sunday to face off against Lafayette at Dodson Field at 4 p.m. The following weekend Cornell hosts Princeton, and field hockey will have another chance to score its first Ivy goal of the year.