Though the women’s soccer team began its season with hopes of challenging for an Ivy title, recent league and non-conference losses have forced the team to reevaluate its goals. In the past three weeks, the Red lost four games — three to Ivy League teams. Wednesday night, the women dropped their final home match of the fall to Buffalo. With only games against Ivy rivals Princeton and Dartmouth remaining on its schedule and an overall record of 7-5-1, the team now must strive to break even on the year.
After losing to Buffalo, head coach Berhane Andeberhan felt frustrated but not despondent.
“I hated the loss, and it was puzzling. We had no focus and no intensity,” he said. “But everybody goes walkabouts now and then. We’ve all played in those games before, and I’ve coached in them before.”
Despite the losing streak, the team feels confident it can eliminate mistakes and improve its play down the home stretch. According to Andeberhan, Princeton will play a physical game, but he and his athletes have worked to adjust to the Tigers’ style.
“You bet we’re going to change our strategy from Wednesday night,” he said, referring to the team’s lackluster play against the Bulls. “Once we get our attitude straightened out, we have nothing to worry about technically. We’ll just go back to doing what we’ve done most of the season — playing well.”
But this game against the Tigers won’t be like most the Red has faced since it began play in September: Princeton may be the best team the Red will face all year. The Tigers enter Saturday’s contest with an impressive 10-1-3 record — first in the Ivy League standings. Most recently the black and orange defeated Syracuse, 3-1. That same Orange team shut out Cornell, 3-0, earlier in the season.
After the Syracuse game, Princeton head coach Julie Shackford said, “It was a good win on the road. I thought our first half was our best half all season long. We have good momentum heading into the last part of the season.”
Yet neither Andeberhan nor his athletes feel worried, and they will do everything they can to finish their year on a positive note.
Junior Katie Thomas’ return to the lineup may improve the Red’s chances of winning. Several weeks ago, the goalie suffered a concussion during the team’s game against Penn. The injury has kept her out of the lineup ever since. Wednesday against Buffalo, however, the Californian returned to the field and made five saves while sharing time with her replacement, freshman Katrina Matlin. Though Matlin has performed superbly between the posts while subbing for her injured teammate, Thomas’ return may help spark the women back to top form.
“Katie will really help the team,” said Andeberhan. “She’s a great goalie.”
No matter what the result of this weekend’s contest, however, Andeberhan and his team know that they have done everything possible to win this year, and they have no plans to stop now.
“The season is already a success,” said the coach. “The losses are disappointing, but we certainly don’t plan to lose anymore.”
Archived article by Everett Hullverson