Coming off a 4-10-3 2004 campaign, the returning players of the women’s soccer team, led by captains Kara Ishikawa and Shannon Fraser, made a commitment to success a little less than a year ago.
“We were disappointed after last season,” Fraser said. “The returning players really set their minds to getting better.”
Following the example set by Fraser and Ishikawa, the Red went to work, participating in a more vigorous regimen than the team had ever used before. The team kept its coaches restless, constantly focusing on sharpening each player’s individual skills.
“They kept wanting [assistant coach] Gretchen [Zigante] to work with them,” said head coach Berhane Andeberhan. “It got to the point where we were working in corridors when space wasn’t available. The whole team was heavily engaged in working on their skills.”
Unlike past years when the team would gather for informal practices once a week, the captains made sure the entire Red squad met three times a week, taking full advantage every moment they were able to use Cornell’s indoor facilities.
The Red even traveled to UMass to take part in an indoor tournament. Unable to stay overnight due to offseason regulations, the squad was forced to leave Ithaca early in the morning. Although the team arrived just minutes before kickoff of its first game, Cornell took the tournament title.
The success last winter, however, was just a foreshadowing of what was to come this fall. Having outscored opponents, 8-1, through the team’s first three contests, the Red point to that offseason work as directly leading to Cornell’s (3-0-0) early season dominance.
“We have had tremendous fitness this season,” said head coach Berhane Andeberhan. “Last winter made a significant difference. It really laid the ground work for this season.”
Furthermore, the coach credits much of the team’s work ethic as a reflection of its leadership.
“We have excellent captains – the best I’ve had at Cornell so far,” he said. “They do so much on and off the field.”
Along those lines, Andeberhan believes that the way in which Ishikawa and Fraser assert their position not only creates a positive team culture, but also cultivates other leaders among the squad.
“They command respect with their play and their leadership . They are among our top two or three players on the field and their work ethic is tremendous,” he said. “They are gym rats – they just love to play and they lead in such unassuming and effective ways that it really rubs off. Now, there are a lot of other wonderful leaders on the team – it really caught like wildfire and spread.”
Now armed with its great leadership, improved skills from off-season work, and the addition of several talented freshmen, the Cornell squad feels ready for anything.
“We’re really excited. The freshmen are great and the returners have been amazing,” Fraser said. “It feels great to get those first three wins and, heading into Ivy League play, we’re feeling very capable of winning some games.”
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer