The Colgate Raiders loomed large, but the skill of the women’s soccer team ultimately proved to be the difference in last night’s thrilling 2-1 victory. At halftime, however, the Red was down 1-0 and the aggressive play of Colgate had it frustrated.
“They were very physical and were pushing us off the ball in the first half,” said senior forward Emily Knight. “We didn’t play well.”
After an animated halftime speech by head coach Berhane Anderberhan, the Red came out strong in the second half with several sequences of crisp passes and good possession, the major tenets of its ball-control style of play.
Despite the added intensity and focus, the height and speed of the Raiders continued to disrupt the Cornell attack, which only came in short spurts according to Knight. Luckily for Cornell, it was able to capitalize on what chances it did have.
After three Cornell corner kicks in the space of six minutes, sophomore midfielder Ali Gombar received the ball just above the left side of the 18-yard box in traffic off a terrific send from senior Sarah Greenberg. Gombar shook the Colgate defender and did her very best David Beckham, bending the ball around to the upper right corner of the goal.
With the score tied, Colgate stepped up its offensive sets and reapplied the pressure to Cornell’s goalkeeper, freshman Katrina Matlin. Making her first collegiate start in place of injured junior Katie Thomas, Matlin overcame her pregame jitters to play solidly, despite the goal in the first half.
“Getting the win was nice, but I’m upset about the first half,” said Matlin. “It was a free kick and I didn’t anticipate the girl to get her head on it.”
Matlin kept the Red alive in the second half with some spectacular saves. With 19:03 to go in the game, she just barely got her hand on a quick crossing shot from the left side of the box. As she dove, she knocked the ball down and it trickled along the goal line as the Cornell fans held their breath. Matlin was able to bounce back up and beat the Colgate attackers to the open ball.
“I was able to use my athleticism,” said Matlin. “The girls say that I dive far, and that helps.”
The Cornell defense held and the Red offense was able to punch one last goal through. In the waning minutes of regulation at 4:51 to go, Knight took a pass from freshman midfielder Jess Snyder and juked two Colgate defenders and slotted the ball in the bottom right of the net.
“I got the ball at my feet and made some space in front of me,” said Knight.
There were some close calls involving Colgate shots skimming just over Matlin’s crossbar in the final three minutes, but Cornell came away with the win, improving to 6-2-1 (1-1 Ivy) on the season.
The play of the Red defense was the deciding factor in the game; after Cornell equalized at the beginning of the second half, the booters were able to turn away Colgate consistently and give the offense a chance to notch the victory.
“I was really happy with the defense all over the field; our team defending was good,” said sophomore striker Shannon Fraser.
“The defense saved me many times. Karne [Hukee, a senior back] had the best game ever,” said Matlin. “They held it together back there.”
Cornell will look to build from this win in preparation for Saturday’s home game against arch-nemesis Harvard.
Archived article by Per Ostman