If February came four months earlier, head coach Jenny Graap ’86 might be a little worried. But because of its ideal placement between January and March, the women’s lacrosse team has over four months to iron out the problems it saw on Saturday, as the Red lost, 16-8, in an exhibition against Penn State.
“I felt that competing against Penn State was a really terrific test,” said Graap. “It was a great exercise because it really gives you an opportunity to evaluate your own squad, your strengths and weaknesses.”
The 90 minutes of playing time — a regulation game plus an additional half — allowed the coaching staff its first opportunity to see this year’s squad in action. The additional half provided more time for the younger players to gain experience. Freshman midfielder Lindsay Moore notched three goals in the additional half, accounting for half of the team’s six goals. While the Red’s younger players provided an offensive spark, the team’s defense still proved to be the weak spot, as Penn State added another seven goals in the additional period.
“We graduated so many players from the defensive end that we always knew that it was going to be a problem for us this fall,” said Graap. “We need to work on our defense a bit more in order to contain some of the scoring threats and solidify the back field.”
The team’s less than stellar performance, however, is by no means indicative of an upcoming disappointing season. The Red was shorthanded due to the study abroad commitments of two juniors, and four injured players were on the sidelines.
“We were a little bit light in numbers going against Penn State,” said Graap, “we’re still missing some of our players.”
Even though its defensive struggles made it tough for the Red to stay close, there were plenty of scoring opportunities available for the team. Unfortunately for the Red, a familiar face was guarding the Penn State net. All-America goaltender Lee Tortorelli, sister of Red assistant coach Laurie Tortorelli, started all three halves, while Cornell utilized the exhibition to play all three of its goalies.
“We had terrific scoring opportunities,” said Graap. “We didn’t always capitalize on them because some of our shot placement was not the best, and Penn State has Lee Tortorelli, one of the top goalies in Division I.”
After being ranked 12th in the nation last year, a notch higher than Penn State, and winning the ECAC championship, one may wonder why the Red is still optimistic about the upcoming season. With over four months before the Feb. 28 game against Georgetown, the start of the spring season, Graap has plenty of time to work on game plans and more detailed tactics, elements that were all but absent over the weekend.
“On Saturday, there weren’t a lot of setup plays or hardcore strategy,” said Graap. “Ultimately, we will become more sophisticated in our strategies. All of that will come as we get ready for the spring season.”
The Red will also look to improve on team conditioning, an area that can be difficult to maintain, as athletes are left up to their own devices in keeping up their physical condition in December and January. The women’s lacrosse team will enter into full swing around Feb. 1 in the hopes of a possible NCAA berth or, at the very least, another ECAC title.
“There’s a lot to be done,” said Graap. “We’re at a similar place that we’ve been at the past five or six years. We look forward to being able to train more as a unit in February.”
Archived article by Dan Carroll