It’s been a roller coaster ride of a season for the women’s soccer team. The Red tied its first game, got shut out in its second, and then went on to win its next five in a row. Penn took the wind out of the team’s sails quickly last Saturday, though, when the Quakers beat Cornell, 3-1, and sent junior goalie Katie Thomas to the emergency room with a concussion. On Wednesday, however, the team bounced back with a 2-1 win over Colgate. The victory gave the Red an overall record of 6-2-1.
It also gave the team the confidence it will need to take on Ivy League rival Harvard tomorrow at Berman field.
“Harvard’s a good team. There’s no doubt about it,” said assistant coach Gretchen Zigante. “We’re the underdog here, but we’re playing well and looking for an upset.”
The women know that Harvard’s team is solid on both sides of the ball. In its game against the University of New Hampshire on Wednesday, the Crimson peppered 31 shots at goalie Liz McKay while allowing only three to reach its own netminder, Katie Shields. But, the Crimson, 3-2-3 overall, is vulnerable, and Cornell’s women hope to capitalize.
“Everyone says that they’re a good team,” said freshmen Katrina Matlin. “But they’re not unbeatable.”
After reviewing film this past week, the Red picked up several of Harvard’s tendencies, and the team has adjusted its own game plan to defend against them and create scoring opportunities.
“Harvard usually plays a 4-4-2 or a 4-3-3,” said Zigante. “So, what we plan to do is compensate by adding an extra midfielder or defender. And, if we decided we don’t need it, we’ll put her up front.”
Zigante and head coach Berhane Andeberhan hope to accomplish two things with the strategy. First, the Red wants to stop Harvard’s leading scorer, junior midfielder Alisha Moran. Coming in to tomorrow’s game, Moran has six goals and one assist for the Crimson. Her 13 points rank six ahead of the Crimson’s next leading scorer.
Second, the women want to help freshmen goalie, Matlin, as much as possible. The rookie started her first game Wednesday in place of the injured Thomas, and she will play between the posts again tomorrow. The Encinitas, Calif. native knows she has big shoes to fill, but refuses to the let the pressure get to her.
“It’s nerve-racking, and I’m a little bit nervous,” she said, “but it’s also pretty cool to be out there, and we have a really intense team, which helps me.”
Matlin’s confidence stems from the Red’s performances so far this year. In particular, senior Emily Knight, and sophomores Shannon Frasier and Ali Gombar have delivered outstanding performances. Offensively, Knight has scored in nearly every game for the Red this season, while Gombar and Frasier have teamed up for numerous assists and goals of their own.
“Emily [Knight] is just on fire this year,” said Zigante, “and Shannon Frasier and Ali Gombar are coming on strong.”
On the defensive half, junior Natalie Dew and fellow defender, senior Karne Hukee, have teamed up to stop marauding forwards. Their efforts, with help from Thomas, have combined for three shutouts so far.
“We respect Harvard, and we’re trying to take this season one game at a time,” concluded Zigante. “But we know that we have the potential to win this game. We want a W.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson