In what has been one of the best seasons for the Cornell women’s soccer team in 20 years, the Red had a chance to upset the No. 1 team in the Ivy League on Saturday. However, Princeton (13-3-0, 6-0 Ivy), coming off of a nine-game winning streak, was able to clinch the Ivy League bid to the NCAA tournament and find its 10th win in a row against the Red (9-3-4, 2-3-1 Ivy).
A characteristically strong Cornell defense did its best to hold off the Tigers, who boast two particularly strong players on the attack. Junior goalkeeper Kelsey Tierney earned herself seven saves, a season high for 2015. However, a strong defense was not enough to hold off the Tigers and a somewhat lacking offense sealed the Red’s fate. Cornell lost to the Tigers, 2-0.
“I thought we did a good job denying their central defenders the ability to hit long serves, [but] we did only a medium job of possession in the front half and only a medium job of penetrating around the corners,” said head coach Patrick Farmer. “We did not do a good job at all of creating more corner kicks [and] I did not think we played with enough confidence and that resulted in us also not playing with enough speed to threaten Princeton.”
While no game can be decided before the players step onto the field, the Tigers have had an incredible season of play with just three losses overall and no losses to speak of in league play. Thus, the Red knew that it had to step up its game if it wanted to dethrone the leading Ivy team.
“Going into the game we expected Princeton to be strong, considering they were on a 10-game winning streak and have some extremely talented individual players,” Tierney said. “They have one of the highest scoring rates in the country so we knew they would be a strong offensive force.”
However, while the Cornell women and Farmer knew that the game would be a tough one, the team still felt disappointed with the result.
“We were disappointed in our overall performance,” said senior captain Shanay Fischer. “We outplayed them in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to make up for some early mistakes that gave them the lead.”
While Farmer pointed to the technical shortcomings of the team, Fischer explained that game on Saturday came down to a weaker mental game for the Red.
“Going into it, we knew it was a conference championship game for them,” Fischer said. “We also had a lot at stake, so we expected it to be a battle. I think our downfall was our mental game, not physical shortcomings. They wanted it more than us for the entire 90 minutes, despite our better efforts for the last half.”
While the loss was a hard pill to swallow for the Red, the team has already begun preparing for its final game of the season this Saturday’s game against Dartmouth. The results of the game against the Green, as well as the results of other Ivy League games played that day will determine the Red’s final standings in the league.
“Obviously it’s disappointing to lose and we would have loved to come away with a win Saturday, upsetting the top-ranked team in the conference,” said senior captain Charlotte Tate. “However, we still have a lot to play for and have moved on to look towards Dartmouth this coming weekend.”