It is said that all good things must come to an end. As the women’s soccer team found out this weekend, that ending is not always the positive capstone that one might wish it to be. On Sunday, the Red (7-7-2, 1-5-1 Ivy) fell to Ivy-champion Dartmouth (9-5-2, 6-0-1 Ivy) on the frozen tundra of Hanover, N.H. The 5-0 loss effectively ended Cornell’s season, as the team’s record will not qualify them for postseason play. Clearly, and especially for the eight Cornell seniors, Sunday’s game was not the end that the ladies had dreamed of while they ran sprints in the August heat.
“The whole game was a blur. I couldn’t believe that it happened,” said senior defender Karne Hukee. “It felt like we didn’t even play a game.”
Hukee and the Red did play a match that day, and its lopsided final score reflects only the skill of the Dartmouth squad, not the courage shown by Cornell. Excuses are easy to come by — the temperature was bitterly cold, the concrete-like turf made it extremely difficult for Cornell to possess the ball, the inordinately long bus ride had left the Red rusty and stale — but the players themselves are the first to say that the outcome should fall squarely on their shoulders.
“After the first 15 minutes, we just lost it,” said senior defender and tri-captain Lindsay Rovegno. “It was frustrating; they exposed our weaknesses and it all went downhill.”
At the outset of the match, the Red played well and exchanged momentum swings equally with Dartmouth. Around the 15th minute, however, Dartmouth took control of the game with a flurry of pressure. The Red would never get back on terms.
As the game clock ticked over to 20:00, Dartmouth scored its first goal. Less than four minutes later, the deficit was 2-0.
When the Dartmouth offense wasn’t exasperating Cornell’s defense, it was stifling the Red attack. The Cornell possession game was so frustrated by the conditions and the Dartmouth defense that the Red could muster only four shots on goal.
“I don’t even remember shooting,” said senior tri-captain Emily Knight, Cornell’s leading scorer. “We were smothered.”
The Green continued to roll in the second half, scoring early and often. Dartmouth pressured the Red defense with 14 shots, all of them dangerous and well-placed.
“Every shot was perfect,” said Hukee. “When you play a good team, things don’t always go your way.”
“Dartmouth was definitely a good team, but we should be able to pull ourselves together and give them a game,” said Rovegno.
For the seniors on the team, the mood was bittersweet. Rovegno, Knight, Hukee, Jocelyn Cottrell, and Leigh Ann Schwartz have shared blood, sweat, and the field together for four years. Seniors Whitney Cale, Sarah Greenberg and Jo Galardy joined that core, transferring in to Cornell during that period. The emotions ran high.
“Before the game, I thought to myself, ‘This is the last time I’ll tie my shoes. This is the last time I’ll put on my uniform. This is the last time l’ll run out for the starting lineup,'” said Hukee.
“At the start of the second half, I realized that this was the last time I’d be in the Red and White and playing with all these great girls,” said Rovegno.
With a .500 record, the 2003 season has to be considered something of a disappointment for Cornell, especially considering the promise shown in the preseason and the team’s dominance in September and early October. However, the Red played with maturity and a passionate fire throughout the season and shows little regret for the end result.
“I’ll look back at the highlights of this year, like tying Harvard and beating Hawaii,” said Hukee. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything; it’s been special.”
“I’m upset that it’s over, but it was all worth it,” said Knight. “We all worked so hard; I was able to improve my game and grow up as a person. We got everything out of this program that we could.”
“We’ve come a long way, but there’s still a long way to go,” said Rovegno. “If the players and coaches continue to show their patience and determination, the team will do great things in the future.
“I don’t have any regrets. We played with our hearts.”
Save a triumphant ending, that’s really all one can ask of a good thing.
Archived article by Per Ostman