After dropping its first contest of the year in heart-breaking fashion this past Tuesday, the women’s soccer team (6-1-0, 1-0-0 Ivy) will try to recover while facing a tough Penn team on the road tomorrow.
After allowing two goals in the final 8:05 in its 3-2 loss at Bucknell earlier this week, the Red came up just short of tying the program-record winning steak of seven games. However, head coach Berhane Andeberhan anticipates no lingering effects from the disappointing outcome.
“The team has been great about it. Clearly, they were upset, but there have been no excuses,” he said.
Against the Bison, Cornell controlled the flow of play for most of the game, out-shooting its opponents 19-7. However, in the end, the Red was thwarted by the good play of Bucknell goalkeeper Katie Dry, who made 10 saves.
“Not taking anything away from Bucknell, but we played good enough to win,” Andeberhan said. “We’ve been great in practices since then. There has really been no need to recover.”
That attitude will play an important role if Cornell hopes to be competitive with a highly talented Quakers squad this coming weekend. It was only a year ago that Penn whipped the Red 3-0 in Ithaca.
“They’ve been better than us the past few years,” Andeberhan said. “They are very physical with us, but we’ve gotten better at that. Hopefully it should be a good tactical game – but if it does get physical we’ll be ready for that.”
Penn’s strength has been its defense, which has limited opponents to just 1.30 goals per game. Senior goalkeeper Jessica Keeley, who has already earned three shutouts this season, has been impressive en route to a 0.94 goal against average. Meanwhile, classmate Robin Watson, a first team All-Ivy selection a year ago, anchors a strong core of defenders.
Offensively, the Quaker attack relies heavily on a pair of young standouts. Sophomore Rachel Fletcher has emerged has a highly volatile scoring threat, connecting on .444 percent of her shots. Both her four goals and 11 overall points lead Penn in those categories.
The Red will also have to keep a close eye on the Quakers’ freshman Natalie Capuano, who has collected three goals on a .333 shooting percentage.
Overall, however, Andeberhan is not concerned with how the Cornell defense will react after allowing a season-high three goals against Bucknell, especially with the return of junior defender Mira MacLennan to the lineup.
“We’ve worked on our organization and also missed MacLennan,” he said. “We would assign her to play man-to-man on defense if we need to do that.”
On the attack, junior Caitlin Oliver and sophomore Molly Easterlin have each emerged as legitimate scoring threats for the Red after each notched her third goal of the season against Bucknell. The pair is now just one score behind senior co-captains Shannon Fraser and Kara Ishikawa, who lead the team with four goals each.
Through its first seven games, the Cornell offense has managed an impressive 2.57 goals per game while enjoying an overall 166-52 shot advantage over its opponents. The team knows that maintaining these numbers throughout the demanding Ivy schedule will be a whole new challenge.
“The Ivy competition is tough,” Andeberhan said. “We have to try to play a good game and play our game – We need to play the way that is best for us.”
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer