March 20, 2014

WOMEN’S LACROSSE | Cornell to Battle Rutgers Saturday at Home

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By HAMDAN AL-YOUSEFI

The Cornell women’s lacrosse team will be back in action on Saturday, as the squad plays host to Rutgers in the afternoon. Cornell (4-2, 1-1 Ivy) ended its three-game winning streak last Sunday, falling to Albany 10-17, and will go into the clash with the Scarlet Knights (4-4, 0-0 Big East) hoping to return to its winning ways.

The contest will be Rutgers’ first unranked matchup since March 1, after facing-off against four straight top-20 teams. The Scarlet Knights enter Saturday’s game following their take-down of James Madison, 8-7, on Saturday at High Point Solutions Stadium. Rutgers came back from an early 3-1 deficit to go on and win the game.

Head Coach Jenny Graap ’86 was keen to emphasize the increased importance of the Rutgers game following the team’s loss to Albany.

“Absolutely,” Graap said, when asked if the loss to Albany makes the upcoming games all the more vital. “I think one of the main issues that our squad struggled with against Albany was handling their pressure, handling the physicality of the game.”

Little separated Cornell statisticallyfrom Albany last weekend, with the Red roughly matching its opponent in shots, ground balls and draw controls. According to Graap, the Red has had a strong offensive season thus far, racking up a solid 77 goals in six games. She suggests the Red’s downfall over the weekend may be attributed in part to its weak defensive showing.

“We gave up too many goals to Albany, so absolutely, we’re working hard on playing more stingy defense,” Graap said. “The Cornell defensive unit is working on supporting each other on the field, playing together more and basically working on the concept of a better team defense.”

Graap outlined her expectations of the team looking forward, urging the Red to play scrappy defense and emphasizing the importance of endurance and mental strength.

“I’m expecting a very energized performance from the Cornell unit. I think our intensity and our passion to win the game really need to be there for the full 60 minutes,” she said. “For me, we need to focus on the process and not the outcome. … We as a squad need to focus on ground balls, handling the pressure and team defense.”

Leena Kulkarni Contributo / Sun ContributorJunior attacker Lindsay Toppe, leading the Red with 21 goals, will aid the squad against Rutgers on Saturday.

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