Among the most ambiguous calls in sports is field hockey’s penalty corner. The free shot is awarded to an attacking team when the defending team breaks a rule inside of the large crease surrounding its goal, when the defense intentionally breaks a rule in its own defensive quarter of the field or if the defensive team intentionally hits the ball over the goal line.
The stroke is taken at least 10 yards from the nearest goal post on the defending side’s goal line and must go past the half-circle arc before a shot can be taken.
And that is just the beginning. The penalty corner provides ample scoring opportunity for the team taking the corner as all but five of the defending team’s players (including the goalie) must stand on the opposite side of the half line at the beginning of the play, while there are no limits to how many players the attacking team can stack around the half circle surrounding the goal.
But why does the awarding of a penalty corner produce cheers from the fans of the team on offense? Because this play gives the attacking team an intense advantage over the defense and is one of the most common ways a goal is scored in a game of field hockey.
It also indicates that a team is working hard on offense. Take the UR field hockey game on Saturday against the Hawks of Hartwick College. The ‘Jackets rode a 5-1 advantage in penalty corners to a 2-1 win over the visiting Hawks, securing their third-straight victory and sixth of the season.
After sloppy ball movement in the first minutes of play, UR recovered to dominate the field, attaining a number of scoring opportunities before halftime. Freshman forward Anna Dobrzynski was commanding up top, notching four shots in the first 35 minutes of play and putting the Yellowjackets on the board early with a score off of a rebound in the ninth minute of play.
Dobrzynski, who was named Liberty League Co-Rookie of the Week on Monday, almost made it 2-0 before halftime, barely missing on a rebound in front of goal in the 32nd minute.
The ‘Jackets were again strong offensively to start the second half. Just over 10 minutes after halftime, Dobrzynski struck for the second time, putting the ball past Hawk goalie Mackenzie Chapman thanks to a leading pass on the right side of the goal from freshman forward Allison Beardsley.
But the Hawks were not content with taking a loss and muscled back with a goal in the 60th minute of play. Throughout the half, Hartwick responded to the strong offensive showing on the part of the ‘Jackets with some scoring opportunities of its own.
Hartwick’s best opportunity came off of a penalty corner midway through the half, when Hawk forward Samantha Galm took a shot off of a corner that was blocked at the last minute and sent out of the UR crease. Galm was responsible for the lone Hartwick goal and has been a scoring force for the Hawks this season.
UR finished the game with a 17-3 shot advantage and forced Chapman to make five saves. But even more impressive was the endurance of the Yellowjacket team, which had only one sub enter the game during the entire 70 minutes of play and still managed to maintain pressure and look fresh throughout the game. Hartwick, on the other hand, subbed eight players in and out of play during the match.
With the win, UR enters Liberty League competition on Friday with a 6-2 record. Of its two losses, one was against SUNY Cortland, a top-25 team, according to the most recent National Field Hockey Coaches Association poll. The other loss was a 1-0 heartbreaker to cross-town foe, Nazareth College.
In addition to Dobrzynski’s recognition this past week, senior defender Erica Gelb was also acknowledged for her efforts on offense against Houghton College last Wednesday and her help on defense against Hartwick with Liberty League Co-Defensive Player of the Week honors.
The Yellowjackets travel to Troy, N.Y. to take on Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at 4 p.m. Last year, the ‘Jackets beat RPI, 1-0, in Fauver Stadium thanks to a goal from junior forward Lara Bucarey.
UR travels to Poughkeepsie, N.Y. the next day to take on the Brewers of Vassar College. Last year, UR defeated Vassar, 6-1, at home.
Hilfinger is a member of the class of 2010.