The energy was palpable at Dodson Field on Friday, when Cornell field hockey was introduced in its first regular season match in two years.
With the Red entering the season third in the Ivy League preseason poll, Cornell’s first contest marked an opportunity for the squad to begin its quest to not only meet but exceed expectations.
The Red did just that, earning a 2-0 victory over the Wagner Seahawks. Cornell was in control of the game from the get-go, demonstrating strong ball control throughout the first half, limiting the Seahawks to only two shots. However, despite some opportunities on penalty corners, the Red was also unable to score in the first two quarters, which head coach Andy Smith attributed to first-game nerves.
“People were very nervous on Friday,” Smith said. “ I think that contributed to the fact that we took a while to get going.”
The tide would turn for Cornell in the second half, as it broke through on a penalty corner. After an initial missed attempt, junior midfielder Natalie Stone put a bouncing shot in the back of the net with 3:57 left in the third quarter, giving the Red a 1-0 lead. The team doubled its lead two minutes later, when junior defender Caroline Ramsey went top shelf off of another penalty corner.
“We have Natalie Stone inserting, and then Bridget [Mahoney] stops at the top of the circle and then I pick it up from Bridget and drive flick,” Ramsey said. “It’s a skill that I started learning my freshman year, but it’s definitely one that takes a long time to get under your belt … so it was awesome to see corners pay off the way they did.”
Two goals would be all the Red needed, as the majority of the fourth quarter was played in the Seahawks’ defensive end without any shots in the fourth quarter. The game ended in a 2-0 shutout, with the Red’s defense, led by junior goalie Aerin Park, showing particular prowess, allowing only one shot on goal and five total shots by Wagner (0-3) the entire game.
“I think we all have a ton of confidence in our goalies and in our goalies’ ability to not only save balls coming in but direct the backfield really well,” Ramsey said. “And so that sense of reliability in the backfield stemming from our goalies gives the rest of our field a ton of confidence.”
On Sunday, the Red switched up its pace as it faced off against Colgate (0-3). Looking to go undefeated on the weekend, Cornell wasted no time starting the scoring action, as Ramsey notched her second goal of the season off of a penalty corner four minutes into the first quarter.
The Red found the back of the net in each of the next two quarters, as junior defender Julia Darno scored on a penalty stroke in the second, and sophomore midfielder Antonia Packard notched her first goal of the season in the third. While the Cornell defense allowed its first goal of the season in the fourth quarter, the unit maintained control throughout the match, allowing only two shots on goal and five total shots. The Red took the contest 3-1, sweeping the weekend and starting its season with a 2-0 record.
Looking ahead to Homecoming weekend, the Red will next take the field against the University of Albany (2-4) 4 p.m. Friday at home. However, its biggest test of the season thus far will come at 11 a.m. Sunday, when the team takes on Michigan (4-0), which holds the No. 1 national ranking. However, Coach Smith’s focus will always be on his own team.
“It’s just all about us — if we put our best foot forward, we’re going to be competitive in any game,” Smith said.
Ramsey echoed this sentiment.
“I think that in terms of play, communication on the field and just connecting with each other, doing the simple things — the small passes, finding penalty corners, playing solid strong defense — will give us a good game against Michigan.”