Though just a little past the midway point of its 2006 season, the No. 12 women’s lacrosse team (7-2, 3-1 Ivy) has already achieved a considerable amount this year.
With wins against three top-20 teams and on the brink of wrapping up its sixth winning Ivy League campaign in the nine years that head coach Jenny Graap ’86 has been at the helm, the Cornell program is definitely forging a name for itself nationally.
However, as the season winds down over the next few weeks, the Red still have much to do to earn a much-coveted berth into the NCAA tournament.
“In our history, we’ve only qualified twice for the tournament,” Graap said. “We have a lot left though. We’ve got to take it one game at a time. We want to keep playing for as long we can, but we can’t look too far into the future.”
Currently in second place in the Ivy League behind Princeton – the team responsible for the lone blemish on the Red’s conference record – it appears to be a long shot for Cornell to win the outright league title and the automatic NCAA tournament berth that goes with it.
Nevertheless, with eight at-large spots available for the 16-team field, the Red is definitely still alive when it comes to postseason play. Currently, ranked 10th in RPI and 12th in quality wins – two of the five factors that the NCAA selection committee considers – Cornell appears to be sitting in decent shape to make a for a tournament berth.
Though hesitant to look too far into the future, Graap did note several similarities between her current squad and the two Cornell squads that she led to the NCAA tournament in 2001 and 2002.
“Like those teams, the 2006 squad has a lot resiliency and camaraderie,” Graap said. “There is also a real sense of mutual respect that goes a long way in creating positive feelings on and off the field.”
Graap also noted, however, that the current squad is unique in many ways as well. Further, what makes the 2006 team different from those previous qualifiers is what makes it such an exciting squad of which to be a part.
“We’re different … we’re young and many of the players are still finding themselves. We have lot of room to grown – we haven’t yet peaked,” Graap said.
Though the Red will definitely have the opportunity to show-off that potential down the homestretch of its season, it will not come easy. Cornell faces a difficult schedule which includes games against No. 14 Syracuse and No. 20 Stanford, as well as a tough Ivy League match-up against a gritty Yale squad.
Graap, though, is optimistic about her teams chances – especially because of the strong leadership she sees her players leadership her players show on the field each day.
“We are a team made of strong women who command respect,” she said. “We have been blessed with three great captains. Our leadership is one of the biggest factors to our success.”
Archived article by Scott Reich
Sun Staff Writer