Not many people knew what to expect Saturday when the No. 9 women’s lacrosse team opened up its season against No. 7 Notre Dame. Neither team had played a game yet this year, and both had plenty of new faces on the starting line-up.
“We expected it to be a good game,” said Notre Dame coach Tracy Coyne.
Cornell head coach Jenny Graap ’86 said her team had similar expectations; and no one expected it to be easy.
“It was going to be a dogfight,” said Graap.
In the first half, Graap’s prediction fit perfectly.
The Irish started the scoring at 6:41 when midfielder Meredith Simon got a feed from pre-season All-American Danielle Shearer and nailed a quick corner shot. Unfazed, the Red stepped up and answered. Less than a minute later, sophomore Lindsay Steinberg took the ball through traffic and made a sharp move down low to tie the score at 1-1.
It was back and forth for the rest of the first half. Seniors Sarah Fischer and Sarah Averson and junior Kate Hirschfield each put up a goal to answer three from Notre Dame and tie the score at 4-4. With 49 seconds left in the half, Steinberg netted her second score of the game to give Cornell a one-point lead and a little momentum heading into the break, and from there the Red put the game away.
The second half was not a good time to be wearing a uniform for the Irish. Cornell locked down on defense, the offense found its groove, and Notre Dame simply could not keep up.
“It’s difficult when your opponent possesses the ball a large amount of the time,” said Coyne.
Led by senior captain Erica Holveck and junior goaltender Ashley Charron, the defense silenced Shearer and the Irish’s offense, holding them scoreless for nearly the whole period.
Guarding Shearer with left than five minutes left in the game, Holveck drew a key penalty and erased any hope of an Irish comeback. On the ensuing possession she took the ball down field to set up the Red’s eleventh goal.
“She held her position really well,” Graap said, talking about Holveck’s defense on Shearer for the whole game.
Notre Dame managed only a single garbage-time goal with four seconds left in the game.
On the other side of the ball, Steinberg, Averson, Fischer and junior Jamie Quinn made sure the Red kept possession and dismantled Notre Dame’s defense, scoring eight unanswered points for the Red.
“Our offense really picked it up,” said Holveck.
“In the second half we had a little more energy,” noted Graap. “Our offense started to get a little more cohesive.”
Fischer and Steinberg led the team with four goals a piece, and Averson had three.
“I think it’s an advantage for us to have two seniors on-line,” Graap said, noting the pair’s experience and leadership.
This was Fischer and Averson’s first chance to step out of the formidable shadow of last year’s seniors and lead the team.
It was Steinberg’s first career start.
“I’m really happy with Lindsay’s play,” said Graap. “Based on today’s performance we’re really excited for her.”
Averson and Fischer both agreed.
“She always goes hard,” said Averson, “She really stepped up.”
“I was really nervous before,” admitted Steinberg. “I just got really pumped up and forgot everything and went out to play.”
The team whole team was pumped, she said, and they carried it through.
They never thought it would be easy though.
“We knew it was going to be a fight,” said Stienberg.
And the team won it, conclusively.
With a final score of 13-5 over the No. 7 team in the country, the Red exceeded its expectations and made a definitive statement to start the season. Even after it lost seven seniors to graduation, it is still going to play tough.
“It feels really good that we’re going to get the respect we deserve,” said Fischer.
The rest of the season awaits.
Archived article by Matt James