March 16, 2007

W. Lax Kicks Off Ivy Season at Columbia

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This weekend marks the women’s lacrosse team’s Ivy League season opener, as they travel to Wien Stadium in New York to take on Columbia’s 3-2 Lions. It is an important game for the Red, who have started their season a disappointing 1-3. It will be looking for redemption tomorrow, as well as the chance to prove once and for all that it can defend the Ivy title.

This past week the team has been preparing hard for the match. The practices have been tough, said head coach Jenny Graap.

“We’ve been working on being grittier, tougher,” she said. “We have to be ready to fight from the first whistle of the game.”

Graap said that the team must start “demanding more from each other,” both on the field and during regular practices.

“We’re trying to hold everyone a little more accountable for how we do in practice,” Graap said. “We’re calling them out when they’re not towing the line. And we’re not trying to get ahead of ourselves. We must strengthen our foundation first.”

A major factor in all three of the Red’s losses this season has been a consistent inability to win a majority of the game’s draw controls. This year the Lions have improved their offense to average 11.0 goals per game, and have won almost 60 percent of their draws this season.

In order to try and break the pattern, in practice the Red has been focusing more on the basics than it has in the past, but there has also been a real emphasis simply working hard and maintaining a good attitude.

“We can’t lose focus on what works,” Graap said. “And that’s always been hard work. We need more of it, we just do.”

If history is any indication, the odds are on the away team. The Red has won its last two Ivy openers, and has won its last 10 games against the Lions. In nine of those 10 matches, Cornell outscored Columbia by at least seven goals.

But the Lions have started their season strong, as their winning record indicates, and they will not be looking backwards. And neither will the Red.

“We’ve been lucky enough to beat them,” Graap said. “I don’t think that means anything. We’re focused on the here and now. By no means am I looking for some kind of historical precedent.”

But Graap doesn’t deny that a game against the Ancient Eight is always a little more special than Cornell’s non-Ivy opponents.

“The league is certainly special,” she said. “It has an added emotional element. We have a lot of respect for our conference. I think there is always something extra there — something positive.”

What is also certain is that when Cornell takes the field this weekend, it will be motivated and prepared.

“I think we’re looking forward to the start of the Ivy schedule,” Graap said. “We’re going to have an effort on the field that we can be proud of. We haven’t had enough of that energy, of that post-game pride. We are taking destiny into our own hands.”