The Red’s Ivy League season stuttered to a start with a loss to Columbia on Friday, followed up by a draw against Central Connecticut State on Sunday. Now with a record of three wins, five losses and one draw, Cornell is looking to bounce back from its losing record and face even tougher competition.
The Red’s game against Columbia was its first match against an Ivy League team, so the team knew all eyes were on them.
“I definitely felt a lot of pressure because I know how important this game was, especially because this was a team we could compete with and a game we should’ve won,” said freshman forward Kennedy Yearby.
Columbia (4-4-2) — typically the Red’s first Ivy opponent of the season — has always been a difficult team for Cornell.
“We invest a lot into it physically, mentally, emotionally, psychologically,” said head coach Patrick Farmer.
Despite all of the effort the women put into their training and gameplay, they still came away from the game without scoring a single goal, suffering a 0-2 loss to the Lions. Over the course of the game, Columbia managed to attempt twice as many shots as Cornell.
The Lions started off the game strong, with a goal in the eighth minute, something that rattled the Red in the first half, according to sophomore defender Grace Keller.
“We just knew that we couldn’t lose that game, and the fact that they scored so early hindered that,” Keller said. “I think for me personally, just being on defense, [the first goal] really shook me.”
However, both the players and Farmer agreed that the Red’s physicality and determination improved by the second half.
“I think everyone understood the task and was really putting in effort to scoring that goal that we needed,” Keller said.
The team’s next game was against CCSU on Sunday, and it was a hard-fought draw that extended into double overtime. Cornell upped the ante with its shooting, as the team tried out a new formation and rotated 22 players on and off the field to find the best strategy for the coming season.
“We were expecting more [shooting] opportunities than [against] Columbia,” Keller said. “With shooting it’s honestly part skill and part practice, but a lot of luck, so you’re going to increase your luck the more you take the shot. We just need to be shooting more and increasing our chances.”
Cornell made a total of 13 attempted shots, compared to the Blue Devils’ eight attempts.
“It became more urgent and more apparent that we needed to finish and put away the game,” said sophomore goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy. “It may have increased our play. I think it may have inspired some attacking ideas from some players that normally wouldn’t.”
The Red had a strong defense as well; Kennedy made four saves in her second career shutout.
Nevertheless, the women still see ways that they can improve their gameplay for future matchups.
“I actually feel like that game was one of my weakest games but it proved that our defense was really strong,” Kennedy said. “I could’ve made better decisions coming off my line … I could’ve been a better communicator with my back line. [These are] just little instances that I notice in myself.”
Kennedy stressed that the team is focusing on upcoming games, and not letting past contests distract them.
“We need to start looking forward and stop focusing on the goals we haven’t scored and the opportunities we have missed and the games we have lost,” Kennedy said. “[We need to] think of every new game as a new day — ignore the previous games and the previous record and focus on the new game.”
Looking forward toward to their game against Penn on Friday, the team agrees that they do not plan to look back on the team’s past record.
“I think we have the talent, I think we have the players, and I think we have the right mindset,” Yearby said.
“We’ve played a lot of tough opponents in preseason so I think we’ve learned a lot through that, and Columbia this weekend was just growing pains,” Kennedy said. “The [Ivy League] games are a lot more different, they’re a lot more intense. There are personal rivalries — we’ll move forward from here with a lot more confidence and hunger.”