Coming off a narrow loss against No. 6 Penn St. (5-0), the No. 15 Cornell women’s lacrosse team (1-1) shifts its focus to league play as it takes on the No. 10 Penn Quakers (2-0) Saturday at Franklin Field.
The last time the two teams squared off was at Franklin during the Ivy League Championship Tournament last year where Cornell dealt Penn a narrow 11-10 loss. Now the Red prepares itself for battle as it tries to improve its 16-28 all-time record against the Quakers.
“Every game matters and our goal is to win the regular season title and the [Ivy League] tournament and that starts with beating every team in the league,” said senior attack and captain Catherine Ellis. “Everyone steps up their game to play against a league opponent.”
The Quakers are undefeated so far this season and will prove to be formidable opponents for the Red.
“[Penn] has been a top team probably for at least 10 years or more now — they’re the top of the heap,” said head coach Jenny Graap ‘97. “We know it’s going to be a battle and they’re coming in undefeated and they’ve had two wins under their belt. I think we have to come in hungry as we always do. For us, it’s starting off our Ivy season and the importance of our conference play is absolutely a part of this.”
Ready to prove itself as the dominant team in the conference, the Red has worked tirelessly this week to eradicate its weaknesses and hone its strengths.
“I think the identified area that we need to improve on is we need to be able to score more goals in just the flow of the game, not relying on the penalty shot so heavily,” Graap said. “We’re really trying to step up some of that area to get ready for our first Ivy game.”
Though the Red graduated a stellar senior class of defenders last year, the team proved that it is still a force to be reckoned with by holding Penn St. to just nine goals last weekend.
“A lot of underclassmen have stepped up and even a lot of upperclassmen have really stepped up to the plate to be those leaders out on the field,” said sophomore attack Sarah Phillips. “I think our team is different [from last year], but we’re just as good. [Last year’s seniors] were always setting the bar higher, so we’re just excited and hopefully we can do it all again.”
With four out of the eight teams in the conference being ranked in the national top 25, winning the Ivy League title is no easy task. But no stranger to hard work, the Red is committed to reaching its goals simply by getting better everyday.
“Our motto this year is ‘better every day’. And that’s something I think we really try to take pride in and we take seriously — that every single day at practice we’re there to get better, not to just stay stagnant,” Phillips said. “By you getting better everyday, you’re making your teammates better everyday. So by pushing each other we’re only going to get better.”