September 6, 2006

W. Soccer Wins Season Opener

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In a game that was delayed until Sunday because of the aftermath of Hurricane Ernesto, the women’s soccer team came out anxious to get the season started and walked away with a 3-2 victory over Lafayette.

“Everyone was bursting at the seams to play the first game,” said interim head coach Gretchen Zigante.

Cornell scored first when senior Caitlin Oliver headed in a bending left-footed cross from junior Molly Easterlin in the 35th minute. Right before halftime, senior Allison McEwen, who also plays for the Cornell lacrosse team, made it 2-0 as she knocked in a rebound off her own shot that had deflected of the goalkeeper.

Ten minutes into the second half, Lafayette’s Ashley Richards scored off of a corner kick to pull the Leopards within one. Soon after the Red pushed the lead back to two on a goal from freshman Eva Dixon.

“Our freshman group is very talented,” Zigante said. “We have a lot of players who can get it done.”

Lafayette would score once more in the 72nd minute, forcing Cornell to adjust their strategy and focus more on the defensive half of the field in order to secure the victory. The change proved to be vital as Cornell’s defense swept away a few chances by the Leopards in the final minutes.

“We had to pick it up a notch,” Zigante said. “We gave up a little bit of our attack. It was good to see some of our veterans being very tenacious about winning the ball.”

Leading the way for the Red was senior midfielder Jessica Snyder, who established herself as a key playmaker during the game.

“I am very pleased with our talent,” Zigante said. “We have a lot of players that can get it done. That is a good problem to have.”

Senior Katrina Matlin and sophomore Jessica Lebo split time in goal for the Red as Zigante noted that no player has clearly emerged as the starter at this point. Zigante, a former keeper herself, will also give sophomore Taylor Hendren and freshman Carlyn Stromberg a chance in net before she names the starter for the duration of the season.

The win started the season off strong for the Red, and Zigante hopes that this momentum can start to build and carry the team into the Ivy League season.

“Winning begets winning,” she said. “We will evaluate how we played, savor it, but then we have to get ready for the next game.”