On Saturday afternoon, the comforts of home could not provide the women’s soccer team with a much-needed victory as it fell, 1-0, to Penn in its first game in Ithaca since Sept. 6.
“It felt really good to play at home,” said senior Whitney Hughes. “It is a completely different feeling to not have to travel to play. Obviously though, it was a very disappointing outcome.”
The loss was the seventh in a row for the Red (1-7-1, 0-2 Ivy) and kept Cornell in last place in the Ivy League. Penn (5-2-1, 1-1 Ivy) picked up three important points and moved into a tie for fourth in the league.
At first the Red looked as though it might take advantage of a Penn team that seemed considerably weaker than in years past.
“We were expecting a stronger showing from Penn,” said senior Jessica Snyder. “They are usually fast and athletic and we were surprised at how much we were able to play our game.”
[img_assist|nid=18712|title=Applying pressure|desc=Freshman midfielder Brenna McGuire (29) runs down a Penn player during Saturdays game.|link=popup|align=left|width=87|height=100]
Attempting to pounce on the possibly weaker Penn squad, the Red was caught overextended in the offensive end and fell victim to a wonderfully played counterattack. The Quakers’ Jess Rothenheber, while the Cornell defense struggled to get back, took a beautiful through ball from Jessica Fuccello and slid a shot past sophomore goalkeeper Carlyn Swensen. The one goal would hold for the rest of the game as the Red was unable to muster up enough fire-power to find the back of the net.
“We were generating good attacks in the beginning,” Hughes said. “But we didn’t capitalize on our attempts. After that, Penn pretty much controlled the second half.”
Besides the single goal, the Red defense continued the strong play that has characterized the team all season. Unfortunately, the lack of goal scoring, which has also been a staple of this year’s team, also continued in a game that was played mostly in the midfield.
“Neither team was particularly threatening on offense,” Snyder said.
Interim head coach Gretchen Zigante used a variety of substitutions in hopes of jump starting the sluggish Red attack — by the end of the game, seniors Caitlin Oliver and Alison McKeown, both starting forwards, along with most of the starting midfield, were on the bench. The new lineups proved to be equally ineffective as Cornell only directed four shots on goal over the duration of the entire game — Penn keeper Sara Ross saved all four attempts.
“I think that people need a break sometimes,” Snyder said. “We were desperately in need of a spark to get that goal back.”
Close matches are a common occurrence in the Ivy League. This weekend was no different with three of the games showing an identical 1-0 box score, with the fourth ending in a 0-0 tie. The apparent parity bodes well for a Cornell squad that is still looking for its first league win and is hoping to improve on its single victory from a year ago.
Despite the losses, Snyder still believes the Red will soon find its winning ways.
“I think other teams are a bit taken aback by how well we are playing,” she said. “We are dominating a lot of the games, but we still need to find a way to win together on the field.”