Coming off a decisive win against Niagra, the women’s soccer team traveled to the city of brotherly love on Friday night, optimistic about picking up its first Ancient Eight win of the season. Unfortunately for the Red (2-9, 0-2 Ivy League) the early season struggles continued, as Cornell dropped a 2-1 decision to defending Ivy champion Penn (8-2, 1-1).
The Red emerged energetic, amassing multiple first half scoring opportunities including two breakaways, but the squad’s failure to capitalize on any of those chances proved to be the difference as Penn stormed back with two second half goals.
After a scoreless first half, Penn got on the board just 1:36 into the second half on a boot by Clara Midgely. The Quakers scored the eventual game-winner in the 75th minute on a corner kick.
Freshman Claire MacManus notched her first collegiate goal in the 55th minute — a header off a feed from senior Abigail Apistolas. MacManus, a Rosemont ,Pa. native, rose to the occasion in her first trip home.
“It was a beautiful goal”, Apistolas said. “All I had to do was loft the ball into traffic and Claire took care of the rest.”
This proved to be one of the few shining spots for the Red in a half dominated by Penn.
For head coach Danielle LaRoche, this loss stung a bit more than others. After losing to Penn last year, 3-0, a win the other night could have been just what the Red needed to turn around its season.
“This loss was a bit deflating,” LaRoche said. “We matched up really well with them, and it was a bit disheartening to come out of there with out a win”.
Nevertheless, LaRoche’s players are still eager to finish up Ivy League play strong.
“Penn is a great team, but we hung tough with them,” Apistolas explained. “Eradicate a few mistakes and the score could have been in our favor… We’re very close to being a great team. “
LaRoche reiterated the same thoughts, but added that the team needs to work on maintaining a high level of intensity for the entire 90 minutes of play.
“We’re playing great soccer, we just need to bring more energy,” she said. “Luckily we have a full week of practice to work on this.”
Despite a disappointing season so far, the Red still has a lot of time to climb in the Ivy League standings.
“We’re hungry” Apistolas said. “We haven’t been outplayed by anyone this year … mental lapses and the inability to finish have killed us.”
Looking ahead Apistolas stressed the importance of “taking this week to focus on what needs to be fixed”.
A look at the Red’s schedule will show that four of its games have been decided by one goal, a statistic that reflects the team’s emphasis on focusing on the little things.
Cornell returns to the pitch at home on Saturday for a 1 p.m. showdown against Ivy League leading Harvard (6-4, 2-0). The Crimson has been won three straight with the latest victory coming on an exciting 2-1 overtime win over rival Yale.