This past weekend brought good weather and good competition to Ithaca as the Cornell women’s soccer team opened its 2003 campaign. The Red played two home games on the pitch at Berman Field, tying Stony Brook 2-2 on Friday and falling to upstate rival Syracuse 3-0 yesterday afternoon.
“The results of the weekend were disappointing, but the team gave a great effort,” said senior striker Emily Knight.
The weekend’s games were characterized by solid efforts from the Cornell women, who were at times downright dominating. The Red took a two-goal lead into the 79th minute against Stony Brook. At 8:44, sophomore forward Shannon Fraser scored the first Cornell goal of 2003 on an assist from sophomore Phela Townsend. Fraser later assisted on Knight’s goal, coming four minutes into the second half.
“We’ve been working on a new system since the spring, and we felt very in control of the game,” said Fraser. “[The system] was working; we were winning and scoring goals.”
The Red then began to lose its element of control when the Cornell back line stepped up to draw the Sea Wolves offside on a clearance. Stony Brook immediately sent the ball back into the middle of the 18-yard box, catching several forwards off-guard as they were running to the center to get back on side. Instinctually, Stony Brook’s Katie Kramer side-stepped with the ball and banked it into the back of Cornell’s net.
The equalizing Stony Brook goal came on a direct kick. Earlier, Cornell head coach Berhane Anderberhan had replaced several of his starting defenders under the auspices of gaining the younger members of the team game experience. Stony Brook got the shot off extremely quickly, catching the young Red defense flat-footed. The swirling winds caused the ball to knuckle on junior goalkeeper Katie Thomas, who collided with a Stony Brook player while diving back to the ball.
Both overtime periods saw the Red regain control of the game. Cornell was, however, unable to push a winning goal through the Sea Wolves’s defense.
“It was good to come out in our first game and dominate a team like that,” said Fraser. “We played strong, and we’re disappointed that we didn’t win.”
Cornell’s strong play carried over to yesterday’s game against Syracuse.
The game began with Syracuse attacking down the left side of the field, getting a shot off in the first minute of play. In the fifth minute, Thomas made a spectacular diving save for the Red, coming out of the goal box to stuff Syracuse’s lightning-in-a-bottle junior forward Shana Thomas.
Syracuse scored on a header past Thomas in the top left of the goal. Sophomore Kristina Cristofori was able to out-leap the Red defense in traffic and beat Thomas up high.
The theme of the day was contact; the game was marked by several collisions and scrums. With 31:37 to go in the first half, senior winger Whitney Cale leveled her Syracuse mark as they both attacked the ball. The collision left the Orangewomen down on the pitch as Cale walked away unscathed. Three minutes later, Cornell’s Thomas made contact with Syracuse’s Thomas, forcing the striker to leave the game with a bloody nose.
Thomas would return, however, and increased Syracuse’s lead to two goals with 29:59 to play in the second half. Cornell had its chances to get back in the game, but could not manage to get on the board.
“I think we were over-matched with speed and size, but once we settled down we played an excellent game,” said Anderberhan. “We weren’t able to convert our scoring opportunities, but then, that’s football.”
With 15:25 left in the game and down by two goals, Anderberhan started shuttling out his starting core, similar to the substitution strategy employed in the game versus Stony Brook. “
We need to get everyone experience,” said Anderberhan. “There’s short-term risk but with long-term benefit.”
The final Syracuse goal was scored in the waning moments of the game on freshman keeper Katrina Matlin, who was making the first appearance of her Cornell career.
Although the weekend’s results were less than spectacular, the Red is optimistic for this season. The team is stronger, fitter, and hungrier than ever before.
“We played great and really stuck together as a team throughout the whole weekend and it’s these tougher times that will make us stronger and make the next wins that come that much sweeter,” said senior captain Lindsay Rovegno.
The Red will next challenge for one of those wins on Wednesday when it travels to Lewisburg, PA and take on Bucknell.
Archived article by Per Ostman