Before Saturday’s game, Katie Thomas and her fellow seniors were honored for years of commitment to the women’s soccer team. Then Thomas honored her school with 110 minutes of perfection.
The veteran goalkeeper made a season-high 14 saves — many of great difficulty — and her impressive work on Senior Day kept Dartmouth off the scoreboard. After two overtimes, two Cornell injuries, and many intense moments, the Red (4-10-3, 1-5-1 Ivy) walked off Berman Field with a hard-fought 0-0 tie.
Dartmouth (7-6-4, 2-3-2 Ivy) took an incredible 32 shots. In addition to the 14 stopped by Thomas, there were a number of shots which just narrowly missed the goal, and several that hit the crossbar.
“They were just pressuring all over the field,” said freshman defender Leslie Campbell. “Everytime we got the ball out of the back, it was just being shoved back at us.”
Despite the non-stop offensive charge, Thomas did not seem at all rattled.
“Katie had a great day and played extremely well,” said senior forward Emily Wyffels.
Thomas was also a vocal leader throughout the match, calling out plays, and encouraging her teammates.
“The team did come together to play as well as possible in this last game,” Thomas said. “All the seniors came out to play like never before. Everyone gave everything they had.”
At times, it seemed as if the Cornell backline was playing a half-field drill, with the Dartmouth forwards parked in Red territory.
“Our defense, as always, worked their butts off,” Thomas said. “They also are remarkable for their ability to defend as hard in the 110th minute as they did in the first half.”
Time and time again, the crowd at Berman Field gasped in collective anxiety as the Green forwards went one-on-one with Thomas, only to watch her save the day with an incredible save. The shots came fast and furious, and there was no end to their variety — headers, direct shots, chip shots, and deflected shots. Thomas stopped them all. Her 14 saves were only three short of the school record.
“That’s the Katie we know and love,” said head coach Berhane Andeberhan. “I’m glad to see her go out in a blaze of glory. It was great to see her play her typical Katie game. She basically kept us in the game.”
However, Cornell’s offense could not deliver the golden goal. The Green kept the booters out of Dartmouth territory for most of the game, and the Red managed only five shots. Wyffels had three shots on the day.
The Green had a chance to win in the fifth minute of the second overtime. Forward Emily Tracy took a shot near the goal, which Thomas stopped with a diving save. Forward Ashley Carruth got the rebound, and fired a shot at the wide open right side of the net. But the ball hit off the post — one of many close calls for the Red.
The level of play was generally intense. Sophomore defender Jessica Schindler suffered what Andeberhan described as “a pretty bad high ankle sprain” late in the game, although it was initially believed the injury could be worse. Sophomore defender Mira MacLennan suffered a more minor injury earlier, and was able to return in the later minutes of the contest.
“It was clearly a physical game,” Andeberhan said. “Mira and [Dartmouth’s Roxy Davis] were at each other all day.”
Saturday’s match was the final collegiate game for seniors Thomas, Wyffels, Natalie Dew, Megan Healey, Kelley Hess and Ann Hubert. But Wyffels thinks the importance of playing for Cornell is long-lasting, and immeasurable.
“This team has been my passion from the time that I’ve been here,” she said. “On any given day, I can walk into a locker room filled with 26 other girls and know that these people have brought me the greatest happiness. I like to think about all of the different backgrounds that my teammates and I come from, and how we were all unified by a simple sport.”
Before Saturday’s game, Hess spoke about how the team should look at its final match of the year.
“[She said] we should play like this was the first game of the next season,” Thomas recalled. “She said what all of us as seniors were feeling. We wanted so much to see a winning Ivy team in our time here, and now it’s up to the younger players. That’s why we wanted to play like this was the first game of the next season — to contribute a little more to the team’s future.”
Archived article by Ted Nyman
Sun Staff Writer