Standing just inside the gate leading to Schoellkopf Field, one could feel the intensity emanating from the turf. For 60 straight minutes, the No. 15 Cornell women’s lacrosse team (2-0, 0-0 Ivy) completely dominated Rutgers (0-3, 0-1 Big East), winning 15-6.
Led by junior Jaimee Reynolds’ offensive onslaught and senior co-captain Sarah McGoey’s brilliant defense, the Red held the Scarlet Knights scoreless for the last 23 minutes of the game en route to its seventh straight victory, dating back to last season.
“In our last appearance on Schoellkopf [last season], we had a fabulous win over Johns Hopkins University to win the ECAC title,” head coach Jenny Graap ’86 recalled. “And we were in the stadium on Tuesday watching the men’s lacrosse team beat Colgate, so we were inspired to christen the field with a win.”
“I always love playing on Schoellkopf,” Reynolds said. “It’s the best turf field I’ve ever played on.”
For numerous freshman, it was their first taste of what life at Schoellkopf would be like in years to come.
“It was exciting,” freshman Michelle Allen said in wonderment. “It was nice to have people there watching, and neat to think that this will be my home for four years.”
Cornell blew away Rutgers from the opening whistle, scoring its first seven goals in a span of 17 minutes, three of which, were recorded by Reynolds.
“Jaimee is a phenomenal contributor to the defense as well as the offense,” Graap commended. “She gets better and better every year, and this time she took advantage of some opportunities presented to her; Rutgers didn’t defend her strongly enough.”
“I was surprised by that,” Reynolds said. “Even in the second half, they didn’t seem to double-team me or anything. I’m sure that won’t be the case in future games.”
At one point in the game, it seemed like every shot the Red took hit the back of the net. After the Scarlet Knights cut the lead to six, junior co-captain Ginny Miles used a nice juke to free herself from her defender and nail her third goal of the afternoon.
“I think the Rutgers goalie was a bit shell-shocked,” Graap said. “She’s been struggling so we knew we had to shoot a lot.”
“We had the confidence knowing that we had a good chance to score,” Reynolds assured.
Midway through the first quarter, Rutgers began to mount a comeback. Taking control of three straight draw controls, the Knights hit three of three shots to close to 8-4. Draw controls would prove to be the Red’s weakness throughout the afternoon, as it lost four straight to close the half and numerous other during the second half.
Graap was impressed by the string of three goals and glad to see that her team remained calm, kept faith and bounced right back. She remained disappointed in the team’s ability to control opening possessions, however.
“The draw control was erratic and unpredictable,” she lamented. “It became random luck as to who would come up with it as it just turned into a pile of people chasing the ball. I was frustrated. That’s something we need to focus on going ahead in the season to face tougher opponents.”
The reasons for the lapses were numerous. Rutgers, perhaps strategically, switched players undertaking the draw control every time. Also, each time, a new referee setup the draw control causing a fair amount of confusion.
“We’re still trying to figure it out,” Reynolds stated. “I’m thinking it’s because we haven’t figured out where the ball is going to go so we can’t position ourselves properly.”
Nevertheless, Cornell remained unfazed, and time and again recorded interceptions to take control of the game. At the end of the first half, up 8-4 but losing momentum, the Red had one last shot at goal. The team swung the ball around the Rutgers’ cage, eventually reaching Allen behind the net with ten seconds left.
“I was running a play to Ginny and Jaimee, but I couldn’t see them,” Allen explained the team’s ninth goal. “I knew the clock was running out, because I could hear the crowd behind me. I just happened to see [Averson] make a great cut to lose her defender; I passed it to her and she scored.”
“Michelle is very talented,” Graap praised. “She is particularly poised for a freshman, and she plays with confidence. I love her ability to feed the ball. In that situation, she knew the pressure was on. With ten seconds left in the half, and needing the score, most freshman wouldn’t want the ball. But with that goal, going into the half, we were feeling good. It was important for us to take control at the end of the first half.”
Cornell used that momentum, and stellar defense to carve its victory into stone. Reynolds scored two more goals, and McGoey made sure Rutgers would not see the light of day.
“Sarah McGoey played one of the strongest games I’ve seen her play in her career,” Graap said. “She played the entire 60 minutes and was very consistent, very reliable, and ensured good transitions.”
Second-half counterattacks by sophomore Sarah Fischer and Miles put the Red ahead by eight, 14-6.
The final goal of the game was a beauty. Using incredible patience, the team alternated the position of the ball between the back and front of the net. After almost two minutes, junior Lori Wohlschlegel got the ball on the left side. She then half-lofted the ball to Allen, who rolled towards the top. Allen caught the ball over the shoulder and nailed the final goal of the game on a bounce shot.
Reynolds led the way with six goals while Miles recorded four. Junior goalie Carrie Giancola had an impressive game in the net, saving eight shots.
Throughout the second half, Graap was able to give many young players time on the field. Sophomores Anne Pfeffer and Annie Boccella and freshmen Jaime Quinn, Kate Hirschfield and Ashley Charron all got in on the action.
Archived article by Sumeet Sarin