Plagued by a pair of miscues and a stifled offense, the women’s soccer team (6-2-0, 1-1-0 Ivy) could not get back on the winning track, dropping its first conference game of the season 2-0 to Penn (5-2-2, 1-0-1 Ivy) on Saturday evening.
Coming out of the gates slow, the Red played on the defensive for most of the first half, getting out-shot by the Quakers 12-5.
“We had a slow start,” said senior co-captain Shannon Fraser. “It took us a little while to get relaxed.”
Though Cornell, aided by four first half saves made by freshman goalkeeper Taylor Hendren, kept Penn at bay for most of the period, the Quakers finally capitalized on a quick pair of breakaway opportunities.
Led by a pass from classmate Meg Pittman, senior attacker Carolyn Cross scooted a low shot into the left corner of the goal to spot Penn a 1-0 advantage at 36:05.
Just 3:38 later, Cross struck again, taking a through-pass from freshman Natalie Capuano and airing the ball over a charging Hendren into the net. The two scores moved up Cross’s season total to three, good enough for second on the Penn squad.
Following those two goals, the Cornell team settled down and played the Quakers evenly throughout the rest of the match. Nevertheless, the Red could not get a shot by Penn’s senior goalkeeper Jessica Keeley, who made four saves en route to her fourth shutout of the season.
“We played a lot better in the second half,” Fraser said. “We really played even or better than them during that stretch – On a different day we could have beat them. They just outplayed us [on Saturday].”
Some of the Red’s offensive struggles can be contributed to Penn’s physical style of play, especially when it came to slowing Cornell’s leading scorer, senior co-captain Kara Ishikawa. The Quaker defenders stayed on top of her throughout the game, before she was taken out in the second half after experiencing muscle cramps.
“They were all over her,” Fraser said.
Overall, the Quakers enjoyed a 19-10 advantage in shots. Meanwhile, Hendren and junior Katrina Matlin, who came in to play goalkeeper for the Red midway through the second half, combined for nine saves.
Although, the loss is the second in a row for the Red, Fraser saw several positives coming out of the effort, especially with how the team played in the second half.
“We now know that we can play to that level,” Fraser said. “Penn is always one of the stronger teams in the Ivy League. It was definitely an adjustment to play them after our earlier games, but it showed us that we can beat stronger teams.”
Further, after seeing that they can play tougher teams competitively, the next step for the members of the Red’s squad is to change their psychological approach.
“Most of the things we have to work on is mental,” Fraser said. “We’ve got the capability to play those teams. Now we have to have the mindset that we can beat these teams in order to be able to win.”
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer