Cornell’s defenders have played very well this year, despite a young backline made up almost entirely of freshman and sophomores, with senior Natalie Dew the important exception. The Red, with senior goalkeeper Katie Thomas and sophomore goalie Katrina Matlin in net, allowed only one goal in its first five matches. In the team’s Ivy opener against Columbia, the defense continued its strong play against improved competition.
The backline did find its first real difficulties of the year Saturday, however, against the high-powered offense of Penn. The Quakers have one of the best frontlines in the Ivy League, with 2002 Ivy League Player of Year Katy Cross, and fellow senior Rachelle Snyder. Penn scored two early goals, and went on to win 3-0.
“I think it just took us awhile to kind of get into the game. We were trying a couple of new tactics, and there’s a kind of learning curve,” said freshman Leslie Campbell, who noted that the team was able to fix its early difficulties as the game went on.
Against Columbia two weeks ago, the Red’s starting defense was composed of Dew, Campbell, sophomore Jessica Schindler, and freshman Molly Easterlin.
Against Penn, the Red defense was missing Dew, its leader. The senior was taking the LSAT exam, along with goalkeeper Thomas.
“Obviously Natalie Dew is the leader,” Campbell said. “Natalie is definitely the one we all look to. She beings all the intensity.”
Dew will return to the Cornell lineup Saturday, when the Red travels to face Harvard. The booters tied the Crimson, 1-1, last year.
Campbell considers the loss a learning experience for a Cornell team that began the season 3-0-2.
“It kind of teaches us that no team is just going to give us [a win],” she said.
One thing that stands out when you look at Cornell’s 2004 roster is the number of Californians on the team. 10 of the Red’s 26 players – almost 40 percent of the squad – come from the Golden State. In fact, the women’s soccer team has the highest number of Californians of any soccer team in the Ivy League.
This should not come as a surprise, according to head coach Berhane Andeberhan, given the level of talent the state produces, and the depth of the state’s club system.
“There isn’t a bad club team there,” he said. “You can rarely find a bad player. Some of the biggest and best organized tournaments are held there, and it’s amazing how many great players there are.”
Cornell has been able to recruit many of those talented athletes over the years, including Dew, from Encinitas, and Thomas, of Northridge. The Red’s freshman class includes four Californians, including Easterlin of Pasadena, and Campbell, the 2003 Sacramento Player of the Year.
Despite such a large West Coast contingency, Andeberhan sees the team’s overall culture – made up of players from as far away as Hawaii, and as close to home as Ithaca – as a “blending.”
“It’s more a Cornell culture than anything else,” the veteran coach said.
Princeton has played only two Ivy League games so far this season, but the Tigers (8-0-1, 2-0 Ivy) look like the favorites to win the conference. Princeton is ranked 12th in the nation, and currently sits atop the Ivy League standings, tied with Penn.
The Tigers defeated both Yale and Dartmouth, 3-0. The team’s only loss came to Wake Forest, 1-0.
Princeton is led by senior forward Esmeralda Negron, last year’s Ivy League Player of the Year. Negron has six goals and five assists this year.
Cornell will welcome the Tigers to Ithaca in two weeks, on Oct 29. Princeton defeated the Red 2-1 last year.
Archived article by Ted Nyman
Sun Staff Writer