As the saying goes, offense wins games but defense wins championships. If this is truly the case, the women’s soccer program is definitely headed in the right direction. In the weekend’s UVM Invitational held in Burlington, VT., the Red (5-2-1) emerged with a 1-0 win over host Vermont, and a 0-0 stalemate with Marist.
With the two clean-sheets, the women have already surpassed their total win tally for 2001 (four), while racking up an impressive five shutouts on the season.
The weekend began well for the Red, as it kicked off against home side Vermont. After being frustrated for 88 minutes by the goalkeeping of Catamounts’ goalie Brooke Fairbanks, senior midfielder Sarah Olsen headed home a corner from freshman Ali Gombar.
After being held without a goal in her first six starts of the year, Olsen’s goal couldn’t have come at a better time, effectively killing off a brave defensive performance from the tournament hosts.
“We played really well against Vermont,” beamed coach Berhane Andeberhan. “It could easily have been four to five goals. Their goalie was superb, and we hit the woodwork a couple times.”
Goals were hard to come by once again in Sunday afternoon’s clash with Marist. In an astonishingly one-sided affair, the Red recorded 33 shots and won 16 corners without once hitting the back of the net. Led by Gombar, the Red produced an onslaught on the Marist goal, but the Red Foxes held firm through two overtime periods to earn an unlikely draw.
The goalkeeping nemesis this time was Melanie Nai, who almost single-handedly kept the Red out with 17 saves. At the other end, Cornell senior Kristin Lotito had a tidy game in her first collegiate start in place of sophomore Katie Thomas.
“The game against Marist was not a good experience,” commented Andeberhan. “They packed it in their box — it’s not a bad tactic to use, but it doesn’t make for good soccer. They were beyond physical, and quite verbally abusive.”
In an otherwise forgetful game, Lotito’s solid performance in her debut was some consolation to Andeberhan.
“Kristin is an excellent player,” he said. “She has trained well, has improved greatly, and is the best example of a team player on our team.”
The combination of a grueling roadtrip, as well as playing two exhausting games could have negative repercussions on a Cornell team that is entering a busy part of its schedule. With Bucknell in town on Wednesday night, the Red will have to play four games in a span of just ten days.
“This week, I’m less concerned than I was a week ago,” said Andeberhan. “About a week and a half ago after the Colgate game, there was a lot of fatigue, a lot of injuries. About six people came down with the cold. We’ve almost completely recovered from that now.”
Andeberhan will have his fingers crossed that his side will continue to remain healthy, as it enters a critical stage of the 2002 campaign.
Archived article by Soo Kim