Two first period goals from the Red proved insufficient to attenuate the field hockey team’s competitive energy. Rather, the quickly-earned advantage fueled the team’s offensive vigor, which carried them to a landslide 4-1 victory against the Lafayette Leopards.
The win is especially impressive in light of last year’s matchup on Oct. 22, when the Leopards toppled the Red 2-1. Such a reversal is a testament to the newly-developed cohesiveness of the team, fostered under new head coach Andrew Smith’s revamped coaching philosophy.
“We are on a different trajectory now,” Smith said. “For us, each game is just a game and we just have to focus on the task at hand.”
The Red (3-1) entered the game against Lafayette (3-5) with a clear strategy: clinch an early advantage — and junior forward Grace Royer delivered. Just seven minutes into the game, Royer gained possession of the ball. With a quick maneuver, she moved the goalie and comfortably netted the ball.
Junior Julianne Mangano, with the help of freshman Natalie Stone, was next to answer the quick-lead call. With just 13 minutes of play on the clock, Stone placed the ball in front of Mangano, who stood within the circle, face to face with the goalie. Mangano gracefully dodged the goalie, eclipsing the second goal and widening the scoring gap to 2-0.
“Before the game we talked about wanting to have a fast start, and I think we came out to play tonight,” Smith said. “We got those quick two goals in the first quarter, which really set us up for success, and I felt like from that point onwards, Lafayette was chasing the game.”
Despite the Red’s sustained intensity, the second quarter was offensively futile. The second quarter was a game of defense with no points notched on either side. Still, the Red ended the half with clear control of the game, still leading 2-0.
Going into the half, Lafayette decided they would not let the Red protect their home field so easily. Hungry for a goal, the Leopards executed, tipping a rebound into the goal.
The Red, however, was left completely unfazed. Rather, the Red regrouped and retaliated with their third goal of the day. Grace Royer gained control of a loose ball off a shot and tipped the ball into the goal. Cornell comfortably ended the third quarter with a 3-1 lead.
A fourth quarter goal by freshman midfielder Caroline Ramsay sealed the fate of the game. Royer notched her fifth point of the game with the 47th-minute assist.
Despite the 4-1 outcome in favor of the Red, the shots and penalty corners were heavily skewed in the direction of the Leopards. Lafayette outshot Cornell 17-5, and had a 6-1 edge in penalty corners. What the game came down to was the ability to create and capitalize upon scoring opportunities — that is where the Red dominated.
“We were really efficient in our attacking circle tonight. We created some grade-A scoring chances and we took advantage of all of them,” Smith said. “We played really well in and around the circle and we got ourselves in the position to take those chances.”
Although the season is young, the field hockey program has undergone a transformation, one defined by early success. This year’s success, compared to last year’s losing season, can be attributed to the formation of a team identity, a goal for the program put forth by Smith upon his arrival.
“We started developing our culture when I first came on board, and our culture is based around having fun and working hard — I think that has developed every single day and we are beginning to see an identity on the field,” Smith said. “We have more smiling people and a lot of hard workers there.”
As the Red move into Ivy League play this weekend, the team will continue to place an emphasis on the development of their team culture, and will take on Penn with the same passion they displayed on Monday against Lafayette.
The Ivy League showdown will take place Saturday at noon on the Quaker’s home turf.