Forced to swallow a bitter loss to No. 15 Syracuse this week, the Cornell women’s lacrosse team must overcome its agony and get back to its winning ways.
“I don’t think it’ll be as tough to get over as I thought it would be after the game,” said star freshman Michelle Allen. “We had a good practice yesterday, and we’re anxious to play.”
The women have lost to their last three ranked opponents, while another one is knocking on their door.
No. 7 Yale hosts the Red this Saturday in a test of will: both teams are vying for a NCAA tournament at-large bid. With a win, and a loss by Dartmouth to Princeton, Cornell will earn a tie for second place in Ivies, and have a good shot for competing in the postseason. A loss would drop them to third and likely end any chances at making the tournament.
“We’ve got a lot riding on this game,” Allen agreed. “There will be a lot of emotion on the field.”
The latter part of the season has seen the Red fall to lapses in intensity, dropped passes and unforced errors. Against lesser opponents, the mistakes did not factor in the outcome of the game, but against ranked opponents, they became clearly apparent.
Head coach Jenny Graap remains unfazed, however, and was impressed with her team’s ability to play as a unit.
“We have struggled to come together, and I think today at least we did that,” she said after the Syracuse game.
One can’t place fault with the defense, which has yet to give up double-digit goals this season. Not even No. 1 Maryland can boast that kind of dominance. Junior goalie Carrie Giancola is having the stellar season she was destined to have: she is currently top-ranked in the nation in goals against average at 5.80. The defense as a whole is third in the nation in goals allowed.
The offense, on the other hand, has had a bit of trouble finding the goal, recording a number of wide shots and missed opportunities. The streamlined attack that had boasted five double-digit games to start the season, has sputtered to less than eight goals per game in four of its last five outings.
“We’ve been putting a lot of pressure on ourselves,” Allen said. “We’ve been working on free-lancing and taking it to the cage. We’ve been doing a lot of extra shooting before and after practice.”
While the Bulldogs are no team to joke about, they’re not invulnerable. The team’s highlight came in an upset of No. 10 Dartmouth — a feat that the Red was only a minute away from accomplishing. The Green was also held to two goals against Duke.
“I definitely think we can win,” Allen assured. “[Yale’s] playing well right now, but they’re beatable. It’ll be a close game. We’re excited to play.”