Cornell is now home to the top dogs in the Ivy League. This weekend, the women’s lacrosse team traveled to Philadelphia to play in the Ivy League tournament, and today the Red earned a victory over rival No. 12 Penn to win the tournament and bring the Ivy League Tournament trophy to Ithaca for the first time in program history.
On Friday afternoon, the Red faced off against Princeton, one of only four teams who managed to defeat Cornell during the team’s phenomenal spring season, and both teams were out for blood. Scoring went back and forth between the Red and the Tigers all game, and at the end of regulation both teams had nine goals, forcing overtime. However, once the whistle blew to start the overtime period, the Red won the draw and never looked back.
“Princeton was definitely back and forth, [but] we had a decent amount of control,” said senior co-captain Emily Tripodi. “We went into overtime, we got that draw and we knew that we had that momentum, and Catherine Ellis just tossed it away. It was an amazing win, just a great game.”
Ellis’ goal was the finishing touch in the game, and ended the Tigers’ quest for an Ivy League Tournament Championship, but the weekend continued for the Red. After a day of rest on Saturday, the women’s lacrosse team got up early for the championship showdown against Penn, the only Ivy other than Princeton who beat the Red. The Quakers topped Cornell last week when they came to Ithaca, winning the regular season conference title.
Cornell jumped out to a big lead in the first half, getting an 8-3 lead before halftime on goals from sophomore Taylor Reed, junior Kristy Gilbert, sophomore Joey Coffy, junior Amie Dickson, junior Catherine Ellis and senior Olivia Mattyasovszky. In the second half, Penn came roaring back and was able to cut the lead to just a one goal, but the Red maintained control of the game and came out with the victory, 11-10.
“We started really well in the first half and built the lead, which was excellent, but Penn is a very experienced tournament team, and they definitely mounted a comeback,” said head coach Jenny Graap ‘86.
The Red watched its lead evaporate as Penn methodically worked its way back into the game.
“The tide definitely turned a little bit in the second half and Penn started to come back on us,” Graap said. “But I think it was really very pivotal that Cornell’s team stayed composed and honestly I think the leadership on the field and particularly the senior class did a great job in keeping everyone settled down and able to withstand that comeback.”
With the victory, Cornell earns the title of Ivy League Tournament Champions and recieves an automatic bid into the NCAA postseason tournament. Additionally, the game was special for Graap, who earned her 200th win with the Cornell women’s lacrosse program. Graap was a member of the team when she attended Cornell and is now in her 19th year with the program as a coach. Once an outstanding lacrosse player an All-American herself, Graap’s experience still shapes her team’s performance. Twice in the second half, she called timeouts at pivotal times that allowed her team to refocus themselves and maintain its lead.
“Some of it is just reminding them of the game plan and giving them good information and powering each other,” Graap said. “A great part of timeouts is that we get to come together as a team, and that’s our strength, our strength is being a team and the girls on the bench get to slap everybody on the back and bolster them up, and help out, and that’s really been the story of this squad for 2016.”
Graap stressed how timeouts can provide much needed teamwork and support.
“Sometimes you’re on the field and sometimes you’re on the bench, but I do think some of timeouts are really just bringing the chemistry together,” Graap said. “It’s not so much always what is said, as it is the feeling of strength and that when we come together we all have each other’s backs and support each other.”
The success of the entire 2016 spring season for the women’s lacrosse team has definitely been a team effort, with multiple players putting in the work on offense and defense to earn the win week to week. Some players have truly distinguished themselves this season, such as Tripodi who set the program record for assists earlier this spring.
Senior Maddie Kiep earned a career high nine draw controls Sunday against Penn and sophomore Taylor Reed had a breakout season, earning Most Outstanding Player of the tournament Sunday. Mattyasovszky, Coffy, Dickson, Ellis and junior goalkeeper Renee Poullott continued their stellar performances from the regular and were all named to the All-Tournament Team.
Up next for the Red is the NCAA Tournament. This marks the team’s first appearence in the national tournament since 2006. Cornell earned the eighth seed and will host Canisius, the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference champion. The Red has defeated Canisius twice in program history, the most recent victory coming in 2013. The tournament field includes 26 teams