Backup goalies might have one of the toughest tasks in sports. Besides getting the rare start, they often have to come into games cold and in some of the most pressure-packed situations. What they do during that limited playing time says a lot about character.
In a display of true poise, freshman Ashley Blum, backup goalie for the Cornell women’s lacrosse team, proved she was, undoubtedly up to the challenge of her role this past weekend.
Getting her first two starts of the season, Blum earned victories in both contests, shutting down a strong Harvard offense Friday afternoon before putting in a quality half against Rutgers on Sunday. In the end, the overall effort earned her the Ivy League’s Defensive Player of the Week honor.
“She was definitely important against Harvard and Rutgers,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. Though entering the Harvard game having only seen action in five games all season, Blum played like a veteran between the pipes.
After Cornell grabbed a seemingly insurmountable 7-1 lead early in the second-half, Harvard went on the offensive. In a furious comeback rally, the Crimson put an impressive 13 shots on goal in the period while the Red’s attack could not manage to get back on track. Fortunately for Cornell, however, Blum showed no signs of cracking under the pressure, making nine saves to help preserve the 7-5 victory for the Red.
Blum’s performance in Sunday afternoon’s match-up against Rutgers was equally as impressive. Helping the Red get out to a 6-4 halftime lead, she stopped six of the 10 Scarlet Knights’ attempts, including two of their three free position chances.
Overall, the weekend’s pair of impressive performances lowered her goals against average to just 7.47 on the season and her save percentage now resides at an effective .540 percent. “She has definitely improved quite a bit,” Graap said. “[Assistant] Coach [Laurie] Tortorelli has done a great job with her.”
Blum’s play this past weekend is not her only performance this season that has established her as a bright spot in the future of Cornell’s women’s lacrosse program. In the Red’s Ivy League opener at Penn, the freshman played over 50 minutes and made six saves to help Cornell comeback from an early 4-0 deficit and win the game 12-10.
“She basically won us the Penn game,” Graap said.
Meanwhile, there is great potential for Blum to continue improving into the future, especially after getting past some early season stumbling blocks. These obstacles have included staying consistently healthy as well as getting adjusted to the Cornell workload.
“She’s been taking a lot of credits and now seems to have really settled into a routine at Cornell and gotten adjusted to the rigors of the academics, which has helped her to get better,” Graap said.
With junior and starting goalie Maggie Fava sidelined with a family commitment this coming weekend, Blum will get one more start this season, as she and the Red host Vanderbilt in their season finale.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer