For women’s soccer head coach Berhane Andeberhan, it has been an uphill battle rebuilding the Cornell program over the past few years. However, with the addition of a deep and talented 2009 incoming class, Andeberhan may finally have gotten the last piece he needs to make the team competitive in the Ivy League.
“It will be a transition year for us after rebuilding the past few years,” Andeberhan said. “Now, we are at the end or near completion of that process. We need to start winning.”
The Red’s freshmen – who will be immediately relied upon at both ends of the field – could prove to be the key toward turning the team’s hope for success into a reality for years to come.
“There are definitely four or five people that will be mainstays for the full four years they are here,” Andeberhan said.
Agreeing with her coach, freshman back Stacey McLeod praised her new teammates’ abilities. “They brought in some really good girls,” McLeod said. “[The class] has good talent all over the field. We have defense, strikers and two goalkeepers.”
In fact, incoming goalies Taylor Hendren and Jessica Lebo may have the most immediate impact on the 2005 campaign. Currently, the pair are entrenched in a 3-way battle with last year’s backup, junior Katrina Matlin, for the starting spot between the pipes.
“It has been a big plus for us bringing in the two goalies,” Andeberhan said. “Either one could be playing immediately.”
However, earning the starting job over Matlin will be no easy task.
“She came back very well prepared physically and mentally,” Andeberhan said.”
For now, the three will share duties in net until one rises to take on the starting role. And, in any case, Andeberhan feels confident in having two competent backups to come off the bench.
In addition to the two new goaltenders, freshmen Megan Joerger, Erin Malnight and McLeod all have legitimate shots at cracking the starting lineup. Malnight and Joerger – who comes to East Hill fresh off of winning the national championship with her under-18 club team – should each contribute on the offensive side. Meanwhile, McLeod will only improve an already stingy defense that held opponents under 2 goals a game last season.
Despite having no experience playing at the collegiate level, the Red’s newest players have quickly been brought up to speed, thanks to the leadership of the Red’s veterans.
“The returning players have been really amazing in how prepared they have been,” Andeberhan said. “Our captains, Kara Ishikawa and Shannon Fraser, have really been great leaders.”
With the team’s first contest just days away, Andeberhan is looking forward to kicking the season off and seeing what his team – armed with its talented newcomers – is capable of doing.
“We should be significantly improved and are definitely poised to be successful,” he said.
Archived article by Scott Reich