The defending women’s Ivy League champion lacrosse team struggled early in its season-opener against Rutgers Saturday, ultimately losing 11-10 in overtime after a second-half surge almost propelled the Red to a comeback victory.
The loss snapped the Red’s (0-1) thirteen-game winning streak at Schoellkopf Field.
Cornell went into the locker room at halftime trailing 7-1, with Rutgers (1-0) scoring four goals in the first 10 minutes of the match. The team made several turnovers in the opening minutes, which gave the Scarlet Knights an offensive opening that they happily exploited.
Senior attacker Lindsey Moore scored the first goal for Cornell midway through the first half, but Rutgers came right back to score three more in a row, including a penalty shot with less than seven minutes left to play in the half.
The Red built up some momentum going into the half-time break with consecutive goals in the last few minutes. Junior Courtney Farrel then scored twice, decreasing Rutger’s lead to four.
Cornell went into the locker room having out shot its opponent, 11-8, and having won four more draws as well.
“We didn’t have a good first half,” said senior defender Anne Riordan. “We came out pretty flat.”
In the locker room at halftime, head coach Jenny Graap ’56 told the team it would have to do something different in the second half if it was going to have a chance.
“Our coach got us pretty pumped up,” Riordan said. “[We thought] alright, we have a chance to turn the game around.”
And turn it around they did.
“The second half was a completely different game,” Riordan said. “The defense picked up, everyone picked it up.”
Junior midfielder Noelle Dowd scored the first goal of the second half, decreasing the deficit to three and continuing the Red’s scoring drive. Dowd proceeded to make the score 7-5 with another goal that made Rutgers use a timeout to try to slow the Red’s momentum.
Cornell then took its first lead of the game with less than five minutes left after two goals by Dowd, giving the Red a 9-8 lead.
The final minutes saw the ball flying all over the field, as each team tried desperately to gain the upper hand. Rutgers tied the score at 9 apiece with 2:20 left in the game, then held for the final shot, which was blocked in the closing seconds by sophomore goalkeeper Renee Hughes, who replaced senior Mary Montague earlier in the game.
Cornell found the net first, in the beginning of the opening overtime period, when a pass from Dowd was converted by Farrel, giving her four goals for the day.
The rest of the first overtime was scoreless, but Rutgers came back in the second overtime period, scoring two heart-breaking goals.
Riordan said the game was “bittersweet.”
“We’re not happy about the outcome, but we played as a team and that’s something to be proud of,” she said.
Riordan said Graap told the players as they left she didn’t want to see them walking with their heads down.
“Losses in the beginning of the season are no big deal,” Riordan said. “We can definitely overcome this. This is just the beginning.”
The team has big plans for the season, including another championship and a trip to the NCAA Final Four.
“What we are focusing on is being part of a unit,” Riordan said. “We have a lot of steady leadership, and we have a lot of experienced players returning. We have to go out there and play with an attitude. There’s nowhere to go but up.”