After charging out to a 2-1-1 record and nearly beating nationally-ranked Syracuse in its second game of the season, the Cornell women’s soccer team now finds itself stuck in a six-game winless streak.
The latest let-down came at the hands of a potent Harvard team that beat the Red 3-0 on Saturday.
The sudden change in fortune for the lady booters begs the question, what happened?
The short answer is injuries and inexperience.
The Red has watched many of its top players go down early in games with injuries, forcing them to sit out that game and nagging them in the following few games as well.
Such was the case for junior stars Cailin Rice and Caitlin Ramsey in the past two weeks. Sophomore Alicia Doolittle and freshman Natalie Dew, two players who played major roles in the Red’s early season success, have also been forced to sit out games to heal their own aches and pains.
There have also been some chemistry issues for a Red squad that (due in large part to the wave of injuries) has not found a consistent rotation. The depleted backline for Cornell has also forced the Red’s midfielders to drop back for entire parts of games to concentrate on defending their goal.
This has subsequently hurt the frontline’s ability to get more quality shots on goal.
Head coach Berhane Andeberhan commented on this problem after this weekend’s loss to the Crimson.
“We keep having to drop back our midfielders,” he said, “and that is where most of our goals have come from this season.”
The Red, which plays a game of patient ball possession, has also found its opponents executing a much more physical style of play.
After a game against Penn that saw the Quakers commit an eye-opening 24 fouls, Andeberhan harped on this point.
“Teams seem to really be playing us rough,” he mentioned, “which is how we will be scouted [the rest of this year] because we are a young team.”
The recent woes for the Red do not have to be a season-long struggle by any means. With a fresher squad and more playing time together as a team, the women’s soccer team should soon find its rhythm.
Throughout its recent woes, the Red has also had some memorable moments of brilliance.
Freshman goalkeeper Katie Thomas has turned many heads on the national collegiate soccer level, earning Ivy League Rookie of the Week honors earlier this season.
Sarah Olsen, who most predicted to be the Red’s superstar this season, has also lived up to all expectations. Seizing her role as co-captain, Olsen has become the undisputed leader of her team, topping almost every statistical category possible. She currently has 19 shots on goal this year — the next best mark is nearly half her total at 10.
The Red has four more Ivy League matches to prove that it is a team capable of recovering from its current dry-spell.
“We are a young team with a lot of potential,” Andeberhan said on Sunday, “we will be rewarded soon enough.”
That turn-around can come as early as this Saturday when the Red hosts Brown at 1 p.m.
Archived article by Scott Jones