It’s amazing what a little intensity can do. On Wednesday, it propelled the women’s soccer team to its first victory of 2003, a 2-1 decision over Bucknell.
The first half was a bit rocky for the Red. Maybe it was the long bus ride through the sticks of Pennsylvania. Maybe it was the memory of crushing Bucknell 3-0 last season. Maybe, it was just the raw intensity exhibited by the Bison players.
“They came out extremely aggressive,” said senior wing Whitney Cale. “It kind of caught us off guard.”
The relentlessness of the Bucknell attack stifled Cornell’s vaunted style of play. The Red was unable to gain stable and consistent possession of the ball through the midfield; Bucknell kept winning 50-50 balls and dumping passes over the top to both corners of the field.
“They were a kick and run team,” said senior tri-captain Emily Knight. “They sent their two forwards into the corners every time and let them deal with the ball by themselves. Their defense basically just kicked it out every time they got [possession].”
After escaping the first half in a scoreless showdown, head coach Berhane Anderberhan knew that in order to win the game, the Red needed to be the hammer, not the anvil.
“Berhane told us to stop just reacting to plays and to actually make things happen,” said junior defender Natalie Dew. “We needed to settle down, play our game, and challenge the ball.”
The renewed spirit of the Red was nearly quelled by a Bucknell goal 13 minutes into the second half. After receiving an entry pass in front of the Cornell goal, Bison freshman Jennifer Margolis turned and shot. The ball bounced off the goalpost in the opposite direction of the diving Cornell keeper, Katie Thomas. Unmarked Bucknell junior Ashley Dincher snuck behind the Red defense and netted the quick rebound.
Instead of getting tight and panicking, the players simply picked themselves up, dusted off, and took control of the game. Showing the intensity that Andeberhan preached about at halftime, Cornell scored two straight goals to claim victory.
Only six minutes after Bucknell took the lead, Knight cashed in on a good cross from sophomore midfielder Ali Gombar.
“[The ball] slipped right through the middle,” said Knight. “I just trapped it and placed it into the net. It was a great cross by Ali.”
The winning goal was scored on the pure speed of sophomore winger Kara Ishikawa, coming with only 7:30 left on the clock. Showing finesse, she chipped a shot over the Bison defense from outside the 18-yard box after streaking down the left side of the field. Ishikawa’s goal handed Bucknell its first loss of the year.
This game proved to the Red that it has the intensity needed to battle for the Ivy League crown.
“It proved we have some fight in us,” said Knight. “We won’t win every game by just playing our style, so we need to find other ways to win. That’s what we did.”
The Red look to carry its intensity into this weekend’s tournament, hosted by St. Bonaventure. Cornell will kick-off the tourney at 2:30 p.m/ today in a match against Robert Morris and play the Bonnies on Sunday afternoon.
“We want to ride Wednesday’s success into this tournament,” said Cale. “We have what it takes to win.”
Archived article by Per Ostman