As the fall sports season gets underway, Cornell’s field hockey team will make a long awaited return to competition on Sept. 8, facing the Colgate Raiders in Hamilton, NY. Like all other fall teams, field hockey has not competed since Fall 2019.
In their last season, Cornell finished with a 10-7 record, going 4-3 against members of the Ivy League. The team started out of the gate strong, winning six of their first seven matches and sporting a goal differential of 15-5.
Promising victories over a ranked Syracuse team, as well as Brown, Yale, Dartmouth and Columbia fueled the Red to a third place finish in the Ivy League, and promised to provide momentum for the team entering 2020.
The Ivy League’s preseason poll predicts that the team will finish fourth in the league in 2021. This marks a notable jump from 2019, when the team outperformed their preseason expectations of a seventh place finish by ending in third. The Red received 74 points in the poll, placing them behind Princeton with 125, Harvard at 112 and Penn standing at 83. Behind the Red, Yale sits in fifth with 67 points, followed by Columbia, Brown and Dartmouth.
The Red have 17 matches on their schedule for the 2021 season, including seven within the Ivy League. Notable games on their calendar include a home battle on Dodson Field against the University of Michigan on September 19, as well as a home Ivy League opener against Columbia on October 2, whom Cornell defeated 1-0 in double overtime in 2019.
The month of October will provide the greatest test for the Red, with matches against all three Ivy League teams currently ranked above them on the preseason poll. They go on the road to face Penn on Oct. 9 and defending Ivy League champions Princeton on October 15, and face Harvard at home on October 30. The Red went 0-3 against those three teams in 2019, and have not defeated Princeton since 2016. Improving on their record against those teams will be key to finishing higher in the Ivy League standings in 2021.
An obstacle for the Red this season will be roster turnover since they last took the field. The team will be sporting 16 new underclassmen and 12 veterans.
One constant will be head coach Andy Smith, who took over the helm of Cornell field hockey in 2019, after six years as the head coach of University of the Pacific. Smith’s entrance into the program in 2019 led to an immediate turnaround for a club that had finished in last in the Ivy League in 2018. Cornell was also given the NFHCA National Academic Team Award in Smith’s first year with the team. With a strong incoming freshmen class, which includes top 50 prospect Hanke Govaert and state champion Ella Singer, Coach Smith will look to continue to push the program in the right direction as they strive to capture their first Ivy League title since 1991.