September 17, 2007

Women's Soccer Sweeps Lafayette, Siena

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The Red has found its striker — but you never would have known it by watching the players walk off the field yesterday afternoon, where Cornell (3-3) pulled out a dramatic 3-2 comeback win against visiting Lafayette (2-4) to complete a 2-0 weekend after a Friday night, 3-0 victory over Siena. Quiet and unassuming, freshman Lena Russomagno was favoring her right foot. Apparently, it didn’t bother her during the game: she scored all three goals against Lafayette to establish herself as the offensive weapon the team had been lacking this season.
The game-winning goal came in the 83rd minute, when midfielder Eva Dixon streaked down the left side of the field before crossing the ball the other way. Russomagno was waiting, getting off a clean shot into the corner of the goal to complete a hat trick.
“The weakside was open all game, and Eva did a great job getting me the ball,” Russomagno said. “My teammates made some great passes today.”
She didn’t need help in knotting the game up in the 53rd minute. With the Red down 2-1, Russomagno got a shot off in the box, only to hit the post. She outhustled two Leopard defenders for the rebound, firing a left-footed shot into the top-right corner of the goal to beat senior Lafayette goalkeeper Mary Kate Erdman.
“I joked at halftime that Lena had to score to get the win,” said Cornell head coach Danielle LaRoche. “But she just finds the back of the net every time … she’s a goal scorer.”
Minutes earlier, the Leopards had seized control of the game in an unusual series of events. They won a corner just after halftime, setting up a score — but referees called a hand ball on Cornell senior Mariye Wick prior to the ball crossing the goal. That resulted in a yellow card for Wick and a subsequent penalty kick from star Lafayette forward Caroline Tuttle, which she converted to give the Leopards a 2-1 lead.
Play turned increasingly physical in the second half, with referees handing out two additional yellow cards before it was over. Tuttle, who scored on the penalty kick and also assisted on Lafayette’s earlier goal, was nearly sent off late in the game for disorderly conduct. In the 78th minute, a violent challenge for the ball near midfield ended with Lafayette senior Lauren Hinkel on the ground for several minutes. Play resumed after trainers helped her off the field.
LaRoche was visibly angry with the referees at several junctions of the game.
“[The officiating] was poor,” she said. “Mariye didn’t touch the ball on the hand ball she was called for … they weren’t consistent. We had nine fouls called on us in the first half and they had three. That’s why, unfortunately, they had to use yellow cards at the end of the game to keep the game [in check].”
In Friday night’s game, which was interrupted because of lightning, Siena College (2-3) was outmatched by the Red from the start. When the Saints failed to clear a loose ball in the third minute of play, Russomagno found herself alone in the box with Siena goalkeeper Patti Carroll. She won the challenge and slid the ball into the open goal to give the Red the quick advantage. That score was followed by goals from sophomore Lauren Lynn and senior Kara Lewis, while Siena didn’t develop any sustained attacks until the second half. Freshman goalkeeper Jodi Palmer secured her first career shutout by making a pair of long saves.
The Red has now won three straight home games to start the season, bringing it to .500 on the year.