Last year, the women’s lacrosse team earned its first NCAA tournament bid in Cornell history.
It finished third in the Ivy League behind perennial national powerhouses Dartmouth and Princeton. The Red played itself to within a single triple overtime goal of the Ivy title.
This year, the team wants to improve.
The team looks to be a serious contender for the Ivy League championship and improve upon its showing in the NCAA tournament, where it lost to Princeton in the first round.
Right now, conventional wisdom says it should be able to do that.
Without a doubt, the Red’s schedule will test its current No. 10 ranking. Eight of the team’s 15 games are against teams ranked in the preseason top 20. Furthermore, three teams fall in the top 10.
The Red faces these high expectations with hard work, poise and experience.
Head coach Jenny Graap ’86 noted that to win, the team must stay focused, continuing the hard work from the off-season into the regular season.
“We have to be consistent in our performance,” she said, “especially to beat good teams.”
The team’s leadership, specifically the eight seniors on the squad, will be needed in conveying that attitude during games and practice. No one is more qualified. They were the players who played in the wins over last year’s toughest competition.
“We’re fortunate to have such great seniors,” said Graap. “They’re the ones that helped to build this program to where it is now.”
Eleven starters return from last year’s squad. According to Graap, they are a critical component of the team, providing Cornell with proven leadership in all parts of its game.
Between the pipes, Cornell has senior All-Ivy goaltender Carrie Giancola. Last year she was among the national leaders in save percentage (.554) and goals against average (6.56). Backing her is talented sophomore Ashley Charron.
Senior captain Katie McCorry and classmate Sarah Graham, both three-year starters, lead the way for the Red’s strong and experienced defense. In 2001, the unit earned itself a No. 4 ranking in the country, and this year, it looks to continue its excellence.
McCorry, who also plays midfield, was named a second-team All-Ivy and a third-team All-American as a junior. Graham has started every game in the past three seasons and brings excellent skills to the team. Junior Rachel Friedman also returns as a starter from last year.
At midfield, three-time All-American senior Jaimee Reynolds leads the way for the Red.
She is joined by classmates Kari Zarzecki and Beth Calder. Junior Erica Holvek, a two-year starter, rounds out the leadership of the unit.
Reynolds was second on the team last year in both goals and assists, while she also tied for the lead in points with 36. She led the team in ground balls, draw controls, stick checks, and interceptions. Calder, a second-year transfer, provides excellent transition play. Zarzecki and Holvek spark both the offense and defense with their quickness.
On the attack, injured senior captains Ginny Miles and Lori Wohlschlegel provide valuable leadership. Both bring three years of experience to the team starting and are All-Ivy mentions — Miles was selected to the second team and Wohlschlegel to the third team.
Graap hopes to have both of these offensive leaders back in three to four weeks to give the Red a midseason boost and bolster the attack corps.
She is confident in the team’s offensive depth, though.
The unit returns juniors Sarah Averson and Sarah Fisher, both starters from last year, and while the attack might be slightly less experienced than some other parts of the team, it’s far from a weakness.
“The attack is solid,” Graap said succinctly.
The Red’s 13-8 win in a scrimmage with No. 1 Duke and its 20-6 victory over Stanford support her point well.
Experience and diligence won’t be the only keys to the team’s success, though. Chemistry will also play an important part.
“I think that this squad is unique because they’re a cohesive unit. They really get along well,” Graap concluded.
“It’s very fortunate when the years come along where there aren’t a lot of conflicts.
Archived article by Matt James