After two dominating victories last weekend, the women’s lacrosse team will open its Ivy League schedule against a much-improved Columbia squad on Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field. Cornell will also face Vanderbilit in Nashville, Tenn., on Tuesday before returning home to continue Ivy action when it welcomes Penn to Ithaca a week from tomorrow.
“The Ivy games are so important for our team,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “It is our avenue to the NCAA tournament and it all starts [against Columbia].”
Although the Red (3-1) has won all nine contests against the Lions historically, Columbia (3-1) will arrive in Ithaca this weekend as strong as it has ever been. A year removed from winning its first-ever Ivy League game against Harvard, the Lions appear poised to build off that success in the current campaign.
“Columbia has really improved,” Graap said. “They’ve got another good recruiting class and are an athletic, scrappy team. … They have everything to win and nothing to lose against us.”
Cornell will have to be especially concerned with the Lions’ strong core of attackers, specifically junior Kate Lombard and Carrie Anderer. Lombard is the team’s leading scorer with 12 goals and 13 points, while Anderer has tallied seven scores of her own in three appearances this season.
“We want to contain their attacking threats,” Graap said. “[Anderer] is great, consistent player and Lombard has been having a great year.”
Goalie Marcela Calidonio has seen the bulk of the minutes in net for Columbia and has managed a .500 save percentage while holding foes to 8.92 goals per contest on average.
Besides protecting its unbeaten historical record against Columbia, the Red will also be motivated to continue its streak of strong play at Schollekopf Field. Over the past six years, Cornell has posted a 36-10 record playing that in that stadium.
“It is our house and we do take a lot of pride in winning there,” Graap said. “It’s always helpful to be playing at home. We’re not exhausted from traveling and we have our fans there. It’s comfortable when everything’s familiar.”
The Red will have three days off in which to fortify itself for the high-powered Commodores (3-4), which have already seen four players scored more than 10 goals this season. Kate Hickman has paced Vanderbilt with 24 goals and 11 assists in the 2006 campaign.
The Red’s defense has made a turnaround after struggling at Notre Dame, where it allowed 17 goals. Last weekend, Cornell held Cal-Berkeley and Hofstra to a combined six goals in its two games last weekend.
“We struggled against Notre Dame,” Graap said. “We had a complicated game plan and it was too much for us at the time. We do better when we’re focusing on the one ball rather than the opposing players.”
Brook Shinaberry will patrol the goal for the Commodores, and has posted an 8.82 goals against average in 2006 to go with a .482 save percentage.
The Red will return to its home turf a week from tomorrow, when it hosts the Quakers (4-2) on Schoellkopf Field. Ali Ryan leads Penn with 12 goals, while Rachel Manson and Melissa Lehman have each record 10 tallies in a supporting effort. Sarah Waxman and Karrie more have split time in the cage for the Quakers, although Waxman has performed better statistically, giving up an average of 9.14 goals and earning a .484 save percentage.