The Cornell women’s lacrosse team heads into its final competition of the regular season this Saturday where it will host Harvard at Schoellkopf Field.
Despite already clinching a spot in postseason play, the team is using the season finale to prepare itself for the Ivy League tournament.
“The main focus heading into the final regular season game is to continue to get better and improve on past games so we head into the postseason strong and confident,” said senior co-captain Kristy Gilbert.
The Red (10-4, 5-1 Ivy) is coming off of its first Ivy-League loss of the season, coming up just short to Princeton. In a hard-fought, gritty battle, the Tigers scored in the final five seconds to edge out the Red 12-11.
Harvard (8-6, 4-2 Ivy) is also looking to rebound from an Ivy-League loss, having fallen to Penn 13-10 for the Crimson’s second conference loss of the season. Cornell faced Penn earlier in the season and came away with a 10-4 victory. While this circle may give the Red some extra confidence, the team will certainly not underestimate Harvard’s skill.
“Harvard is a talented and well-coached team,” said head coach Jenny Graap ‘86. “They have an explosive offense with multiple scoring threats and an aggressive zone defense. We know that we must execute on both ends of the field in order to win this game.”
This weekend’s conference games will determine the seedings for the Ivy League championship tournament, as all four teams — Cornell, Harvard, Penn and Princeton — have already secured spots in the tournament. The tournament games will take place on Friday, May 5 and Sunday, May 7, with the number one seed playing host for the tournament.
Although Cornell holds the title of reigning Ivy-League Champion, the 2017 pre-season polls predicted Princeton as this year’s Ivy-League champion, very closely trailed by Penn and Cornell. The upcoming tournament will be a showdown of the conference’s most competitive squads.
Saturday also marks Senior Day to honor this year’s graduating class of seven athletes. While the team will stay consistent in its focus, the team will have an extra incentive to perform and send the seniors out in the right way.
“Our focus has been consistent all year — we want to work to get better every day,” Graap said. “Pushing each other at practice to elevate skills and to execute under pressure remains very important. Honoring our seven seniors in their last regular-season game on Schoellkopf by earning a victory against Harvard is our goal.”
While the season is guaranteed to continue and the team is trying to keep it business-as-usual, players and coaches alike cannot help but be emotional about Senior Day.
“It has been a huge honor to be on the women’s lacrosse team for the past four years,” Gilbert said. “It has been an amazing experience and I have made friendships that I will have for forever. I will miss playing and playing for Cornell when I graduate.”
The loss of Gilbert and her fellow seniors will be a major blow to the Red’s lineup, but they will leave behind them a legacy of dedication and leadership both on and off the field.
“This group of seniors have had a huge impact not only this season but throughout their careers,” Graap said. “Not only is their leadership outstanding, they have embodied the traits our team values.”
The season finale gets underway at noon on Saturday.