It’s not quite a rivalry yet, but women’s lacrosse head coach Jenny Graap ’86 would like to make it one. Historically the Red has not done too well against Princeton. The Tigers lead the all-time series 21-2, and Cornell is winless in the last 14 match-ups. This weekend the Red will travel to New Jersey to try and buck that trend.
To be certain, a victory will be no easy task. After an overtime loss to top-ranked Georgetown in its season opener, Princeton has reeled off six victories, including four against nationally ranked teams. The Tigers are currently ranked No. 2 in the country. However, Graap believes her team has the talent and experience necessary to earn an upset.
“We’re looking to go down there and win the game,” she said, unequivocally.
The Red comes into the game with some momentum of its own. It has a No. 9 ranking and a perfect 5-0 record for the season, including victories over nationally ranked opponents Notre Dame and Penn and a 2-0 mark in the Ivy League.
This weekend’s contest will likely prove to be one of the keys to Cornell’s season. Princeton has won five of the past nine Ivy titles, and it looks to lead the league again this year. To keep hopes of an Ivy championship alive, the Red needs to knock off the Tigers this weekend.
Graap doesn’t want the team to get too wrapped up in title fever, though. Instead, she prefers that the players focus on fundamentals and the task at hand, Saturday’s contest.
“We’re trying to keep it in perspective, that it is just one game,” she said. “The more we build up the Princeton game, the more we lose our focus.”
Good focus and all-around play will help Cornell more than anything else. According to Graap the Red faces a fast, aggressive team in Princeton. The Tigers, she said, work hard to create turnovers and get to the ball. She also pointed to the importance of the transition game in the contest.
“We’re going to be going after each other in the middle,” said Graap
Winning battles with tough midfield play, both on offense and defense, will be critical to the Red’s success against Princeton, noted the coach.
Very ably leading the way for Cornell at midfield will be senior All-Americans, captain Katie McCorry and Jaimee Reynolds, the team leader in goals, assists, and points (13-6-19) and the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week for two weeks running.
Goaltending will be one of the Red’s advantages, as it goes into battle with senior All-Ivy goalie Carrie Giancola between the pipes, while the Tigers counter with two underclassmen. Giancola’s experience should give her a leg up on the competition and boost the whole team’s confidence.
With all week to prepare for the game, the team is both “excited and confident,” said Graap.
“There’s a lot of emotion when you think of an Ivy League rival like Princeton,” she noted, especially because of the two teams’ recent history.
As Cornell has improved, the competitions between the schools have transformed. Their last meeting came in the first round of the 2001 NCAA tournament, in which the Tigers won 14-4.
In the past the Red couldn’t quite play up to the Tigers’ level; now the Red will only be truly satisfied with a win.
“I can remember [the Princeton games] from my days as a player,” said Graap, “beating them once was memorable.”
This weekend, her players look to make some similar memories of their own.
Archived article by Matt James