Five consecutive losses and a six-game unbeaten streak have been on the minds of the women’s soccer team. The Red (1-5-1, 0-1 Ivy), however, isn’t brooding or sulking in the face of defeat. Rather, it remains determined and confident.
Heading into tonight’s showdown with in-state rival Colgate (7-2-0, 0-0 Patriot), the squad knows it has the talent to secure a win on the road.
“To beat Colgate, our forwards need to play well,” said interim head coach Gretchen Zigante. “They’ve been putting in a lot of effort and getting chances, but they’ve got to go one step further and put the ball in the back of the net. I think they are definitely ready to do that. I think the rest of our team has looked pretty good.”
[img_assist|nid=18572|title=Run for it|desc=Junior Molly Easterlin (20), running with the ball during the Red’s scoreless tie with St. Bonaventure on Sept. 6, has two assists on the season..|link=popup|align=right|width=83|height=100]
The Red will travel to Hamilton, N.Y., and can expect a tough game from the Raiders. Colgate is currently ranked No. 7 in the Northeast Region by the NSCAA. The Raiders feature a balanced attack led by a pair of dangerous young forwards. Sophomore Franny Iacuzzi and freshman Jessica Bitsack, who share the team lead with seven points each, form a dangerous offensive duo.
“Colgate has always been a good rival for us,” Zigante said. “They are very physical, they are fast and they have some good technical players. They tend to try and take the ball to the corner and get it across. Their biggest concern is [junior] Leslie Campbell. They will try and negate her presence by coming in from the corner, because, I just don’t think anyone can beat Leslie one-on-one.”
Cornell, however, knows it must start producing on offense if it is to have any chance. The Red has scored only three goals in its last six games. Three heartbreaking defeats and two tough, hard-fought losses have made the losing streak especially frustrating. The Red has been playing well, but can’t seem to take that extra step.
“We need to be calm and relaxed, and we can’t carry any baggage with us,” Zigante said. “We need to come into the game with a blank mind, and not worry about the outcome. I think there is a lot of pressure, and they put a lot on themselves.”
Zigante does not believe her team has played to its full potential. She noted that senior Jessica Snyder has been among bright spots in a thus-far disappointing season. Snyder has been a force in the middle for the Red, and her playmaking abilities and soccer intelligence have been vital to the Red attack.
Tonight, Zigante will likely give two freshmen a chance to shake things up. Brenna McGuire, a 5-11 midfielder, will bring an athletic presence in the middle, while Kate Bubrick will likely see time at forward.
“Kate has been very dynamic in practice, and we’ll give her a chance to see what see can do,” Zigante said.
Last Friday, in its Ivy League opener against Columbia, Cornell allowed two goals in the first 10 minutes. Despite outplaying the Lions down the stretch and generating opportunities on offense, the Red came away with a 2-1 defeat. Zigante has been emphasizing a tougher approach on defense, and a more focused offensive attack.
“There are two main things [we have working on in practice]; one is finishing our chances we get in front of the goal, and the other is been defending more physically,” Zigante said. “Very often our opponent out-sizes us, whether in height or in weight. We need a more physical presence, especially on crosses.”