A year after making its first-ever trip to the national semifinals, the women’s lacrosse team will open its 2003 season with a No. 9 ranking in the IWLCA preseason poll.
The highest ranking Cornell attained last season was No. 6 during the last week of the regular season. The Red entered its second consecutive NCAA tournament as the No. 4 seed, and ousted Syracuse and seven-time defending champion Maryland at home before falling to No. 1 Georgetown 12-10 in overtime in the national semifinal.
A return trip to the late rounds of the NCAA tournament will not be easy this season for the Red, which face seven opponents ranked in the top 15 in the preseason poll including Ivy League rival Princeton, which claimed the No. 1 ranking. Princeton, which was the only team to beat the Red in the regular season last year, will visit Schoellkopf Field on April 4.
Other Ivy teams in the preseason ranks are No. 12 Dartmouth and No. 13 Yale. The Red broke a 10-game losing streak against the Green last season and will look to repeat the task April 13 in Hanover.
Cornell will also play No. 7 Notre Dame, No. 8 Vanderbilt, No. 11 Ohio State, and No. 14 Syracuse in non-conference action over the course of the season.
Duke, Virginia, Georgetown, Loyola (MD), Maryland, and North Carolina round out the top 10.
The Irish will visit Schoellkopf on March 2 for the season opener. Despite the Red’s 10-9 win in South Bend last year, Notre Dame opens the season with a higher ranking.
“I think that others are thinking that we lost a lot to graduation,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “I think that as a team this year, we have a lot of the strengths that we had last year. It’s just a preseason poll, and we’ll have to prove ourselves with the wins and the losses.”
The Red has a 65-111 combined all-time record against this year’s opponents, but went 12-1 against those teams last season.
This schedule is the toughest the Red has played in recent memory.
“Playing a difficult schedule is exactly what we want to do to be ready for the postseason,” said Graap.
Archived article by Owen Bochner