September 25, 2006

W. Soccer Drops Ivy Opener

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Just a few days after returning from a tournament in Hawaii, the women’s soccer team was forced to pack up again and head to New York City for its first Ivy League match against Columbia. When the final whistle blew, Columbia emerged with a 2-1 victory, leaving the Red winless in its last six matches.

Barely 10 minutes into the game, the Lions (3-3-2, 1-0 Ivy) had already jumped out to a 2-0 lead with mistakes by the Red leading directly to both goals.

“We put ourselves behind early because of some mistakes,” said interim head coach Gretchen Zigante.

After the first two goals, Columbia continued to knock the ball into the corners in hopes of finding a cross that could be put away. Eventually, the Red (1-5-1, 0-1 Ivy) was able to shut down the one-dimensional attack, and the first half would see no more goals as both defenses refused to allow much penetration into the attacking ends of the field.
[img_assist|nid=18531|title=Pass it on|desc=Senior midfielder Kaitlin Dufton (19) looks to slip a pass past a St. Bonaveture defender during the two team’s 0-0 tie on Sept. 6. (Ryan Dunn / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=left|width=100|height=68]
Cornell appeared to have the upper hand strategically, but it struggled to get many chances on the net and walked into the locker room with the two-goal deficit.

“We really felt we were tactically and technically much better [than Columbia],” said junior Mariye Wick. “Their goals were caused by some mistakes by us, so we were very confident that we could come back.”

The teams battled amidst partial darkness during the second half — the lights malfunctioned during the break causing about half of the fixtures to remain off the rest of the way — but the Red found its light in the 66th minute.

Senior Jessica Snyder led an attack down the left wing and hit a driven cross to the middle of the penalty area directly to junior Kara Lewis. Lewis received the ball, avoided a defender and rocketed a shot past Columbia keeper Allison Vespa to pull the Red within a goal.

“We were really confident that we would be able to tie it up and go into overtime,” Wick said.

Cornell pushed forward for the remainder of the half in hopes of finding the elusive equalizer. In the final few minutes, the Red had a chance with a corner, but the ball was ultimately cleared away. When the game ended and the few remaining lights were shut off, Columbia had earned a 2-1 victory.

A bit road weary from the extended recent travel, the Red extended its road losing streak to five and should be excited to play a game at home next weekend.

“We knew at the outset that the schedule was going to be a huge challenge,” Zigante said. “Even so, we have put some great performances together in the early games.”

The loss to Columbia — who the Red beat last year in Ithaca — will not likely determine the rest of the Ivy season for the squad.

“A lot of the Ivy teams have been struggling early,” Wick said. “This game will not dictate the rest of the year.”

With its goals still in front of it, the squad still hopes to be competitive in the Ivy League.

“It is our turn to start climbing and changing the breakdown of the league,” Zigante said. “We know we can play with these names and with no mistakes, we have a better than average chance of winning.”