Although it appears the women’s lacrosse team will fall just short of an NCAA playoff appearance, the Red (8-6, 4-3 Ivy) still have the chance to wrap up a winning season when it hosts Vanderbilt (6-8) tomorrow.
Overall, this season has been an improvement from the Red’s 6-9 campaign from a year ago. With several freshmen emerging as key contributors for Cornell, the team possesses the potential for improvement in the years to come.
One of those intriguing freshman prospects — rookie goalie Ashley Blum — will be on display against the Commodores this weekend. With usual starter, junior Maggie Fava, away from Ithaca due to family obligations, head coach Jenny Graap ’86 will start Blum between the pipes for just the third time all season. However, after Blum’s stellar performances last weekend, Graap should have no fears about relying on her backup goalie.
Starting against Harvard and Rutgers, the freshman netminder put in a total of 90 minutes of work, earning the win in both games, while posting just a 6.00 goals against average. In the end, Blum’s efforts earned her the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week award.
Meanwhile, in front of Blum, there is a duo of freshmen that have been carrying much of the offensive load for the Red since team points leader, senior Kristen Smith, went down with a knee injury a few weeks ago. Newcomers Courtney Farrell (26 goals, 10 assists) and Katherine Simmons (25 goals, two assists), — first and second, respectively, among the Red’s point scorers — have become bona fide scoring threats.
Like Blum, both Farrell and Smith had big weekends against Harvard and Rutgers. Farrell notched a pair of hat tricks, while Simmons exploded for six goals against the Scarlet Knights.
Other Cornell offensive contributors that should play large roles in the contest against Vanderbilt include junior Allison Schindler and sophomore Margaux Viola. Schindler enters game in a tie for the second most assists in Cornell history after setting up a goal in last weekend’s 7-5 win over Harvard. Viola also had a notable weekend, racking up four goals and an assist in the two victories.
With all these scoring threats, the Red appears primed to take advantage of a soft Commodores’ defense, which has allowed over 10.5 goals a game on the season. The Vanderbilt defenders should be feeling especially vulnerable after enduring an 18-8 thrashing at the hands of No. 1 Northwestern a week ago.
At the other end of the field, however, the Red will have to be on their toes, as Vanderbilt will bring several scoring threats to Ithaca.
Attacker Kate Hickman is the most noteworthy of this group, having found the back of the net 40 times in just 14 games this season. Cornell will also to have to keep an eye on setup woman Kendall Thrift, who leads the Commodores with 19 assists.
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer