The Red suffered a demoralizing 5-0 loss to its Ivy League rival, the University of Pennsylvania, at home on Berman Field this Friday. The loss leaves Cornell 0-2 in Ivy League competition thus far, having come up short against Columbia earlier in the season.
Penn’s dominant performance stemmed from a quick string of goals early on in the game. Within the first 23 minutes, the Quakers put three goals in the net, and rounded out the first half with a fourth goal by junior midfielder Erica Higa.
Such a dramatic deficit early on is difficult to overcome mentally, but the Cornell women were determined not to let Penn’s strong start negatively affect their level of play.
“I thought they did a good job maintaining a proper competitive attitude in the second half, even when the result of the match was beyond their ability to change,” said head coach Patrick Farmer.
While the Cornell women remained level-headed and stepped up their performance in the second half, they were unable to make up for the deficiencies in their defensive line which enabled Penn to move to the goal so frequently early on.
“We needed to improve our defensive performance as a whole; Penn outran us in most areas of the field, so that was what caused us to give up the goals that ultimately led to the loss,” said junior defender Whitney Farber.
Cornell senior goalkeeper Kelsey Tierney, who was named to the All-Ivy First Team in 2015, has long been a key strength of the Red’s defensive line. However, Tierney faced a daunting offensive lineup in Penn, and sophomore forward Cameo Hazlewood was able to score a fifth and final goal for the Quakers in the 77th minute of play, off an assist from senior forward Olivia Blaber. Blaber was also responsible for Penn’s first goal, seven minutes into the first half.
Jessica Ritchie, sophomore midfielder for Cornell, said that Penn’s greatest strength was their organization and movement off the ball, while Farber cited the Quakers’ speed and willingness to win the ball.
While Penn’s offense was its most obvious strong suit, the Quakers performed impressively on the defensive end as well. Senior goalie Carrie Crook was able to deflect each of the Red’s attempts at goal, despite the fact that Cornell topped Penn in scoring attempts in the second half 7 to 6. Crook had a .806 save percentage in the 2015 season, inferior to Tierney’s .868, which placed her at the top of the league.
When Cornell and Penn met during the 2015 season, the result was a scoreless draw, while in 2014, Cornell defeated the Penn 3-2 at home on Berman Field.
The Red will look for redemption as they face off against Ivy League leader Harvard this weekend in Cambridge.
“It will be a true test of the team’s mental and psychological abilities and competitive spirit going into one of the toughest venues in the Ivy League to face the conference leaders a week after a stunning result against us,” Farmer said. I am very interested to see how the team, the team leadership, and the young players we have, respond.”
The Red will compete against Harvard on Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cambridge, MA.