The women’s soccer team lost a tough match to No. 22 Dartmouth 1-0 Saturday on Berman Field. The Red (6-4-1, 1-4 Ivy) battled the Big Green (8-3-1, 3-1), keeping the game scoreless until the 87th minute, when Dartmouth back Janet Light found the net for the game’s only score. With the win, Dartmouth extends its winning streak to seven games.
The players had to contend with rain during the first half of play and a wet field that made the ball move unpredictably at times. The booters were still able to put up an impressive performance against a talented Dartmouth squad.
“I’m absolutely delighted with the team’s performance. They played a great, great game,” commented head coach Berhane Andeberhan. “We were simply unlucky today. I think we got outplayed the first 10 to 15 minutes, but from then on, it was either even or we had a little bit of an edge.”
Dartmouth controlled the game early, pressuring the Cornell defense. The Red’s only offensive spurt in the early part of the half came when freshman Shannon Fraser stole the ball and tried to find junior Emily Knight upfield. The Green drew Knight offsides, and the scoring chance was negated. Dartmouth had numerous corner kicks in the first half, but sophomore keeper Katie Thomas was able to clear each attempt.
The Green’s first scoring opportunity came 10 minutes into the first half. A Dartmouth forward brought the ball down the left side of the field, and launched a high shot to the right. The ball sailed over a leaping Thomas, but hit the top corner of the right post. Thomas was tested early, with 10 shots and five corners in the first half.
“Dartmouth had the edge, but we found our game. We defended well, that was the plan against these top teams, teams in the top half of the Ivy League,” said Andeberhan. “The system we’ve adapted is to observe a bit of pressure early, defend well, defend well, defend well, and then we’ll find our game. In the past games this season, we would come out of the gate flat-footed, and to avoid that we changed the system.”
The Red’s offense found its game late in the first half, after recording no shots in the first 25 minutes of play. Senior co-captain Sarah Olsen sparked the Cornell offense late in the half, as she charged upfield on the left side. Beating out several Dartmouth defenders, Olsen launched a shot to the right side, but Dartmouth keeper Julia Shields came up with a great save.
Fraser, who had been stifled by the Green defense early in the half, also generated some scoring chances late in the half. She brought the ball upfield on a breakaway, drawing Shields out close to the 18 yard line. Shields stopped her initial shot, but the ball deflected to the left side, and Fraser recovered it with the keeper severely out of position. Unfortunately for the Red, Fraser couldn’t find anyone in the middle, and Dartmouth was able to clear.
The Red’s best scoring chance came on another Fraser breakaway in the last 10 minutes of the half. This time, Shields stayed in net, and Fraser fired a shot towards the left post. Shields came up big again, as she tipped the ball to the left, and deflected it out of bounds.
Dartmouth changed keepers for the second half, bringing in sophomore Anne Marbarger. The Red kept its momentum from the end of the first half, and penetrated into the Dartmouth zone early on. The Green still was able to work its way into the Cornell zone, and nearly netted a goal in the opening minutes. A Dartmouth shot from the left side beat Thomas, but sophomore back Natalie Dew cleared the ball from the goal line. A later Dartmouth shot hit the crossbar, and bounced forward before it was cleared. Despite Dartmouth’s early chances, Cornell controlled the ball for most of the second half, defending well at the midfield.
“The biggest improvement is our defending at midfield. That has been shaky at times, and we’ve been practicing a lot, and they did a tremendous job,” said Andeberhan. “Defending by Shannon and Emily was phenomenal. Defending against four people and playing a good game is tough, I think they were caught out of position only once or twice, so they really initiated our defending. If our forwards initiate our defending, we can stay organized and our midfield can defend well. Today was probably the best we’ve played in that sense,” he continued.
Despite its better offensive push in the second half, the Red only recorded three shots in the half, none of them on goal. The Red also did not utilize its bench, making only two substitutions in the entire game, compared to six made by Dartmouth.
In the last 10 minutes, the Red seemed determined to break the scoreless tie, controlling the ball at midfield and pressuring the Dartmouth defense. Cornell had two consecutive corners with six minutes remaining, but could not convert. With time winding down, Dartmouth midfielder Anne Pieck sent the ball from midfield up to the 18-yard line. Thomas came out to recover the ball, but Light beat her to it, and hit the back of the net in the 87th minute to seal the victory for Dartmouth.
Thomas finished the day with five saves, with Shields recording two for Dartmouth. The Green outshot the Red 20-5 on the day, and held the advantage in corners with 11 to Cornell’s five. The Red has been shutout in all four of its conference losses this season. Andeberhan was very optimistic, despite the loss.
“If we play this well in our upcoming games, we’re fine. The idea was to play well and win most of the games where we feel we are closely matched, and then try to steal one or two games where we know the teams are stronger than us, as Dartmouth was,” he said. “It is gratifying that our team believes that we can play with anybody.”
Cornell will look to rebound on Wednesday, when it faces Wagner under the lights on Berman Field at 7 p.m. The booters will then travel to Providence next Saturday for a contest against Brown.
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach