After two heartwrenching losses in succession to Ivy rivals Yale and Brown and an uncharacteristic meltdown against Buffalo last Wednesday, the women’s soccer team (7-6-2, 1-4-1 Ivy) needed to circle the wagons and resummon its courage. Head coach Berhane Anderberhan called out his team after the 3-2 loss to Buffalo, saying the Red was “without passion” and “deserved to lose.” The team had two days to regroup before traveling to New Jersey to face Ivy juggernaut Princeton (11-1-3, 4-1-1 Ivy).
“We discussed it a lot. We knew that we needed to pull together,” said freshman Whitney Hughes. “We decided to go out and just play for each other.”
“We had a hard week and our ‘one bad game’ of the season on Wednesday, and we didn’t want to end the season like that,” said senior defender and tri-captain Lindsay Rovegno. “We went out and played for ourselves, because we love the game, and for each other, because we love this team.”
Hughes started the game at sweeper in place of senior Karne Hukee, who was out with an ankle injury suffered against Buffalo.
“It’s hard to break into the lineup because we have such a solid back line,” said Hughes. “When Karne went down, I got my chance and I was ready to play.”
In spite of all the turmoil of the past weeks, so was the rest of the team. As the game started, it was strikingly clear that the intensity that has characterized this team since the beginning of the season had reappeared. Just 17 minutes into the game, sophomore midfielder Kara Ishikawa put Cornell in the lead after capitalizing on a breakaway chance.
The Tigers were trying an offside trap, forcing Cornell’s front line to drop back to avoid the penalty. But the Princeton defense didn’t account for the speedy Hawaiian. Ishikawa was able to stay on side until the ball was chipped over the defenders and, with the Tigers on their heels, win the footrace to the ball.
Ishikawa was assisted by the freshman Hughes, who collected her first collegiate point.
“It felt incredible,” said Hughes. “I’m a defender; I didn’t go in expecting to score a point.”
The elation would be short-lived for the Red. Showing why it is considered one of the top teams in the country, Princeton responded by equalizing the score three minutes after Ishikawa’s goal and taking the lead only 14 minutes later.
Taking advantage of their athleticism, the Princeton forwards attacked the Cornell goalbox with a series of crossing shots. Both goals were scored in the air.
“Some teams loft crossing shots, so they’re easy to get underneath and punch away,” said junior goalkeeper Katie Thomas. “These were quality crosses driven right to the heads of their forwards. They’re difficult to defend against.”
The quick succession of goals did not end the pressure applied by the Tigers. Princeton outshot Cornell 24-1, forcing Thomas to stand on her head in order to keep the game close.
“They play a high-paced game and keep bringing it,” said Thomas. “But, because the back line played so well, we were able to shut them out in the second half.”
The time of possession told a different story than the shot count, as the Red controlled the ball nearly as much as did Princeton. Unfortunately for the Red, Cornell was not able to generate the offensive chances.
Despite the loss, the team was upbeat afterwards, considering the effort and emotion poured into the match.
“I couldn’t be happier,” said Rovegno. “It felt great to play a team like Princeton and know that we gave them a good game, no matter what the outcome was.”
The Red makes the long trek north to Hanover, N.H. on Saturday to end its regular season against Dartmouth.
Said Rovegno, “If we come out to play, we can surprise some people. I’m excited.”
Archived article by Per Ostman