Brown outshot the Red 20 to six. Brown held the advantage in corner kicks, five to one. Brown was the third highest scoring team in the Ivies. By most measures, the Brown offense had a great day.
However, one thing went wrong: they were facing a stingy Cornell defense not known for giving up many goals allowing just above a goal per game, good for third in the Ivies. Despite shooting 20 times, Brown landed only six shots on goal and did not reach the back of the net in over 120 minutes of play.
The defense stepped up big time for the Cornell women’s soccer team on Sunday, much like they have over the course of the season. The experienced and talented Red defense, currently third in goals allowed and shutouts in the Ivy League, has been a consistent rock for the team.
“All of us on the back line have been playing together for the last two or three years,” said junior captain center back Sidra Bonner. “So the experience shows itself in what we do day in and day out. The players back there really complement each other and being comfortable with each other and having that experience has been really beneficial.”
One thing the Red coaches have been emphasizing this season is playing better team defense. Better defense by the midfielders and forwards has made the job easier for the Red’s back four, which in turn has led to better defense.
“When all the forwards, midfielders and defenders are on the same page it helps the defense because the back line isn’t just hanging out there by itself,” said junior captain midfielder Abigail Apistolas. “Everyone is in sync with each other more than we have been in the past.”
In addition, Red junior goalkeeper Megan Bartlett has been outstanding over the course of the season. Bartlett currently leads the Ivy League in saves per game with 5.5 and is third in save percentage at .830. Her presence in the net has been a source of comfort for the Red players, knowing that they have a stud in the net that can make all the saves.
“Megan has amazing reflexes; she’s probably the best goalie I’ve ever seen and played with,” Apistolas said. “It’s always nice to know that she’s back there to make the saves even if something gets behind the defense. She’s awesome and we’re definitely happy to have her back there.”
Tough defense will be the key going into the Red’s final matches of the season, both against Ivy League opponents, who traditionally have faster and more talented forwards.
“The Ivy forwards are definitely much faster, you just have to keep on your feet and make sure everyone isn’t diving in on these girls” Apistolas said.
On Saturday, the Red will look for revenge against a Princeton team which defeated it in double overtime last season. The Red played half the game with a man down due to a red card ejection last year. The match is at 4:00 p.m. on Berman Field.
“I definitely think we are going into this game with a little bit of a grudge with what happened last year,” Bonner said. “It’s Ivies, it’s something that we’ve prepared for all summer and preseason. All we have is seven games to prove ourselves. Once Ivies start there’s really no feeling of intensity that can compare.”