April 2, 2004

W. Lax Hopes to Claw Tigers, End Slump

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Sixteen years — that’s how long it has been since the women’s lacrosse team last defeated Princeton. This weekend, the Red (1-6, 0-1 Ivy) looks to end this skid by defeating the two-time defending national champion Tigers (8-0, 1-0 Ivy), who are currently ranked No. 1 in the country. The teams will faceoff tomorrow at 12 p.m. at the Class of 1952 Stadium in Princeton, N.J.

For the past three seasons, the Red has gone into the Princeton game undefeated, and, for the past three seasons, the Tigers have handed Cornell its first loss of the year. This season is a different story, as the Red’s non-conference schedule has been among the toughest in the nation. The team has already played No. 2 Georgetown, No. 3 Notre Dame, and No. 9 Vanderbilt, and has two more games against top 20 teams after Princeton.

“The competition we’ve faced has been frustrating at times, and our record is clearly not what it was last year, but I feel like right now we definitely have seen [tougher competition]. The experience should really make a big difference in our game against Princeton,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86.

Over Spring Break, the Red traveled to Nashville, Tn. to play Vanderbilt and Ohio State, and then opened its Ivy schedule against Penn last Saturday in Ithaca. Against the Commodores, Cornell rallied from deficits to tie the game five times, but Vanderbilt came out on top, 9-8. Looking to avenge its last-second overtime loss to Ohio State last season, the Red jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the opening minutes. Down 10-5 at halftime, Cornell came back by scoring three straight goals to start the second half, but the Buckeyes held on for the 14-11 win.

The Red returned home to face the Quakers, as a dense fog severely limited visibility. After Cornell cut Penn’s lead to one goal three minutes into the second half, the Quakers rattled off seven of the game’s last nine scores to come away with the 13-7 win.

“Coming off that Penn loss, which was our first Ivy game, I think we had kind of a gut check. We had to really get the women on our squad to compete, to step up their own individual game, and to really start competing,” Graap said. “We watched the men’s lacrosse team play their game against Yale, and it was really inspiring because everyone of those Cornell guys who took the field was fired up and really passionate. They were all out there going 110 percent.”

Despite the losses, a bright spot for the Red has been Junior Kristen Smith, who has emerged over the first half of the season as on offensive threat, scoring seven goals against Vanderbilt and Ohio State. She currently leads the team in goals with 15, and is second on the team in scoring. “Smitty’s emerged as a huge threat for us because she’s got good speed and she takes it hard to the cage, so I fully expect that Princeton and other teams that we’re going to face will look to shut her down,” Graap said.

The Tigers have faced a grueling schedule so far, and have defeated the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 teams in the country. Princeton is led by Junior Lindsey Biles and first team All-American senior Theresa Sherry, who are first and second on the team in scoring, respectively. The Red will need to rely on team defense to shut down Princeton’s scoring threats in their own end.

“We really have to be on our toes and we have to help each other out. We’re going to try to mark their top four leading scorers, but the game plan for us is team defense,” Graap said. “It’s not one girl who is going to stop her man, it’s a team effort to help each other out.”

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach
Sun Staff Writer