Although touted as one of the strongest teams in the nation after coming off the program’s first-ever Ivy League championship a year ago, the 2007 women’s lacrosse team has struggled through the first few games of its season.
Nevertheless, with plenty of experience and talent, the Red (1-3) still have ample opportunity to make this season special.
“The best is yet to come,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “We just need a little more collective strength and backbone.
Eight starters and 13 letter-winners return from the 2006 squad which earned a No. 11 seed in the NCAA tournament and boasted a 12-4 record.
Among the player accolades from a season ago are two All-America, four All-Region and five All-Ivy selections. Furthermore, the returnees account for over 90 percent of the team’s scoring last year.
“We have the individual talent, we just need to be more unified,” said Graap. “We’ve just got to recognize that it’s going to be a battle this season and we have to play tough — no matter what.”
Graap hopes that her team has learned that lesson after some tough early season losses. Although, the Red — ranked No. 11 by the IWLCA preseason poll — won an impressive 19-7 contest against Colgate, its other outings have been disappointing.
In a game that in which it came back from a 7-1 deficit to take the lead twice, Cornell dropped an 11-10 overtime contest to Rutgers in its home-opener. More recently, the Red could not maintain consistent intensity in losses to both Notre Dame, 13-9, and Hofstra, 13-8.
“We need to buckle down and work harder — every game is a dogfight,” Graap said. “We have to realize that it’s going to be a battle for us and that we have to fight for the entire game starting with that first whistle.”
With its entire Ivy League schedule to play as well as games against such challenging teams as Stanford, Syracuse and Vanderbilt, Graap hopes her team will use this early season experience to its advantage as it tries to defend the conference crown.
Meanwhile, with several weapons at her disposal at each position, Graap is hoping to find the right combination of on-field personnel that will help her team click.
“We’re trying to find the right combination for our team. We’ve tried some different lineups and will want to solidify things over the next few weeks,” she said. “The hardest-working player who deserves the spot will get it. Everyone has to earn their position — there’s no sense of complacency.”
As expected, junior All-American Courtney Farrell has been the offensive star for Cornell through the early-going.
A Tewaaraton Trophy watch list nominee, Farrell has accumulated 18 points, including a team-high 10 assists through the team’s first four games. One of the most talented all-around players on the team, she posted 52 points, 19 assists, 26 ground balls, 15 draw controls and 11 caused turnovers a year ago.
Classmate Noelle Dowd appears to have also solidified her place among the Ivy League’s top offensive weapons. After finishing third on the team with 30 goals a year ago, Dowd currently leads the Red with 11 goals from a blistering .524 shooting percentage.
Senior Lindsey Moore, junior Charlotte Schmidlapp and freshman Kathryn Dewey round out the other offensive threats for Cornell. With two goals and four assists on the season, Moore is currently fourth on the team and points. Meanwhile, she has also been a defensive force on the transition having caused a team-high five turnovers.
Schmidlapp appears primed for a breakout season, having scoried seven goals and 10 total points a season ago despite being in and out of the lineup. The 5-11 Dewey should also add an extra element for the Cornell attack, as the rookie has already notched three goals and an assist.
With considerable depth at the midfield position, senior Maragux Viola and junior Katherine Simmons — the team’s tri-captains along with senior Ashleigh Smith — should provide plenty of leadership among those corps of players.
A first-team All-Ivy selection and Tewaaraton Trophy nominee last year, Viola is a force on both ends of the field. Though she has just one goal thus far this season, Viola recorded 27 goals and seven assists last year. Meanwhile, she posses impressive all-around skills and earned third-team All-America honors last season.
Simmons, who was also a first team All-Ivy selection from a year ago, is one of the most prolific scorers on the team. After leading the team with 34 goals a season ago, she is on pace to surpass that mark this year, having scored nine goals in four games. Simmons is also among the best on the team on the draw and at collecting ground balls.
Senior Alison McKeown, junior Amanda Linnertz and sophomore Jessica Wiegand should all also play crucial roles in the Red midfield. After transferring from Penn St. before last season, McKeown made an immediate impact for the Red, tallying 21 points and leading the team with 33 ground balls a year ago.
Linnertz is a solid option on either end of the field, and has already picked up four ground balls and earned five draw controls —starting every game.
After collecting 12 points as a freshman last year, Wiegand continues to show a penchant for scoring this season, with four goals in the first four games.
Despite the absence of All-American Anne Riordan, who has so far been unable to play due to a knee injury she received at the end of last season, the Cornell defense still has plenty of options. Tri-captain Ashleigh Smith earned All-Ivy honors a year ago and is back to lead a young defensive unit. Currently, she co-leads the team with five caused turnovers and has collected four ground balls.
Junior Lis Christie and sophomore Kelly Hansen have stepped into larger roles than they had a year ago and emerged as consistent starters for Cornell. Both players posses tremendous skills and, with each standing 5-10, have the height to intimidate opponents.
Juniors Jessica Dwinell and Marla Diakow, as well as sophomore Deirdre Lafferty should also see many minutes on defense for the Red. All three players should have opportunities to get more playing time and develop into some of the top defenders on the team.
Though senior Mary Montague started in goal for Cornell’s first game against Rutgers, sophomore Renee Hughes later entered that game and has been starting for the Red ever since.
A transfer from Quinnipicac, Hughes started three games for the Bobcats last season and posted a 8.20 goals against average and a .461 save percentage. This season, the goalkeeper has managed a 10.49 goals against average and .460 save percentage for the Red.
Montague is also a very capable option in net for Cornell. With a little over 50 minutes of playing time this year, she has posted an 11.65 goals against average with a .333 save percentage.