In its first road trip of the season the Cornell women’s lacrosse squad (2-3, 1-1 Ivy League) finished with mixed results this weekend, falling to No. 6 Loyola (4-0) on Friday, 14-8, before heading home with its first Ivy League win after a close contest with Columbia (1-3, 0-2), on Sunday, 9-7.
The Greyhounds entered Friday’s action already having a very strong season, beating Top-10 Virginia in their first game of the year. Loyola’s reputation for a fast- paced attack and high scoring games makes them a tough challenge, and the Cornell women knew that keeping the game close would require their best efforts.
“It was a big game for us, and we had nothing to lose going into it, so we wanted to make a statement and go out hard and do our best,” said sophomore midfielder Kelly Lang.
“Loyola is a very, very talented and fast team,” said senior attackman and tri-captain Libby Johnson. “We played well with them in the first half, but we weren’t able to score as many goals as we usually do. Their goalie was very good.”
Cornell’s scoring struggles were due in large part to Loyola’s goalkeeper, Kerry Stoothoff, who had several great saves in the game.
The Red came out strong and stayed with Loyola for much of the beginning of the game, yet in the last few minutes the Greyhounds were able to pull ahead and finish the half ahead, 7-4.
“The first half we were keeping with them and definitely played our game, but a change of momentum occurred in the end of the first half and they carried it throughout the second half. They were playing their style of play… they went on a run and we couldn’t stop it in time,” said junior midfielder Katie Kirk.
“[Loyola] had scored with one second left in the half, and they had a lot of momentum going into the second,” Johnson added.
Junior attackman and tri-captain Jessi Steinberg scored twice in the second half, with Lang and Kirk also contributing goals; however, Loyola was able to gain seven more points in the game while preventing Cornell from scoring in the last 10 minutes of play.
The team had little time to dwell on the loss before heading to New York to play fellow Ivy League contender Columbia.
“We had to quickly transition … overall we were looking to play our game on Sunday,” Johnson said. “[Columbia] was a different pace, they like to slow it down. They would hold the ball for four to five minutes at a time so it was a slower paced game.”
The Red came out strong, scoring within the first minute and never fell behind Columbia, extending its lead to four goals at one point, 6-2.
“Everyone was excited … and we stressed the importance of the game,” Kirk said. “We really played our game in the first half … had a lot of shots on offense, and had a lot of good turnovers.”
Cornell finished the half ahead, 6-4, and maintained the lead in the second half despite what Lang felt was a drop in quality of play.
“We haven’t played a consistent sixty minutes of lacrosse this season,” Lang said. “We did what we needed to do and came out with the win, but we have a lot to learn from Columbia’s game.”
“We weren’t able to capitalize as much as we wanted to … the whole team knew we could’ve had a better effort to play as a team and not let them score quite as many,” Johnson added.
Kirk and Johnson scored the final two goals for the Red, with Kirk registering a hat trick in the process.
“In such a low scoring game, [Kirk’s three goals] were really important,” Johnson said.
Lang, Steinberg and sophomore attackman Caroline Salisbury also contributed to the Red’s scoring output. Lang also impressed over the weekend, particularly standing out in the Columbia game by winning multiple draw controls.
“One of our goals was to work on draw control and [Lang] was a huge factor in that,” said Kirk. “She had a great game both days.”
Columbia scored the last goal with 1:14 left in the game, but was ultimately unable to overcome the deficit.
The Red returns to action when it travels to Lutherville, Md. to take on Notre Dame at a neutral site on March 20.