With five games left, the women’s lacrosse team is in a wide open race for a bid to the north region of the NCAA tournament, meaning today’s contest against Syracuse could have some serious implications.
There are four teams in the race right now, No. 7 Dartmouth, No. 8 Syracuse, No. 13 Yale and No. 12 Cornell. Last year, the NCAA only gave two at-large bids to this group of teams. Dartmouth has wins over both Syracuse and Cornell. Yale beat top ranked Princeton and the Red, while talented, is still looking for what will be its signature game. Tonight could be just that type of moment.
Regardless, head coach Jenny Graap ’86 says the laxers will be doing their best to avoid the hype surrounding them.
“We understand everything, but we’re trying to keep that in check,” she said.
Instead of fretting over the season’s possible outcomes, the Red will keep its eyes fixed on its next opponent, taking the season one step at a time.
“As a group we’re trying to focus on playing the game instead of making it bigger than it is,” said Graap.
There’s a lot on the line, she intimated, but it’s still just another game.
“We’re trying to downplay [the hype] and keep it simple,” Graap concluded.
The team wants to stay focused on the elements it can control and work from there.
The two teams’ records have several things in common. Cornell has a 7-3 record on the year while the Orange has an 8-3 mark. Both teams have wins against Rutgers and Notre Dame and both are coming off losses against Dartmouth.
“Our records are similar but our styles are somewhat divergent,” said Graap.
Syracuse relies on a fast-break offense, she noted. They beat people because they shoot a lot. Cornell, on the other hand, earns its wins with more defensively focused play and a team strategy.
Against the Orange, the Red will do its best to win the draw controls, play a sharp transition game, and stay patient on offense.
“We really need to focus on the draw control,” said Graap. “Against Syracuse, which is a team that gets the ball off the draw and takes it to the net, the draw control will be crucial.”
Otherwise, she said, the team just needs to control the ball and work for the best possible shots. If it does that, the points will come.
The team will be boosted by the return of senior captain Erica Holveck and junior Kate Hirschfield.
“What we’re really excited about is to have a healthy team,” said Graap. “To have Erica back is critical.”
The laxers will likely need Holveck’s consistently stellar defensive play in what might be the team’s biggest contest yet. While it might be just another game, it is a vitally important game. Cornell needs a win to keep up with its rivals and stay on the postseason track.
“It’s going to be a dogfight to get into the tournament,” said Graap.
But, she emphasized, the team can only arrive there by taking it one step at a time. The next step is tonight at the Carrier Dome, 7:00 pm.
Archived article by Matt James