The field hockey team will play its first Ivy League game of the season on Saturday, when it hosts Penn at midday.
The upcoming match will be an opportunity for the Red (0-4) to get its first win of the season, after a tough series of mainly road games against out-of-conference opponents. In recent history the series has been on Cornell’s side, with the Red winning five of the last seven games against the Quakers (3-2).
Penn comes to Ithaca after having lost two straight games to Appalachian State and Rider. The Quakers main offensive threat consists of Julie Tahan, Amelia Cohen and Julie Hitti, who have 5 goals, 4 goals and 3 assists, respectively. In net, Penn is anchored by sophomore goalie Carly Sokach. The Quakers will be looking to have a repeat of last year's matchup, where they were able to defeat the Red, 1-0, in Philadelphia, Pa.
Meanwhile, the Red has spent this week practicing hard in preparation for the Ivy opener, according to senior co-captain Paige Mollineaux.
“We’ve been even more focused in practices this week than before, just because it is the first Ivy game,” she said.
This will begin a period in which the Red will play each of its seven Ivy foes once over the next month and a half, along with six additional out-of-league opponents. The philosophy in practice has shifted as the team prepares for the onslaught of games.
“We’re moving into what [head coach Donna Hornibrook] calls ‘Part B’ of the season. ‘Part A’ was to get us ready for our Ivy play,” Mollineaux said. “We played some pretty talented teams and now we're getting ready to play Ivy games.”
Such strong opposition at the beginning of the season could prove to be exactly what the Red needed in order to have a good opening streak of league play.
In practice, one of the biggest areas that the Red focuses on is to make sure that the entire time is maintaining a high level of mental involvement in the face of early season adversity.
“I think the biggest challenge right now has just been to make sure that everyone has stayed focused and mentally prepared,” Mollineaux said. “In our next games, we don't want to forget about our losses, but rather not spend time focusing on the negativity of losing.”
By focusing on the positive parts of the game during the losses, such as strong communication and a staunch defense against Penn State — a game in which the Nittany Lions’ high-powered offense was only able to score during penalty shots instead of regular play.