September 28, 2007

Women's Soccer Begins Ancient Eight Play

Print More

After an early season start that featured three overtime games and a 4-0 home mark, the Red begins its Ivy League campaign tonight in Philadelphia, taking on Penn. Sunday, the Red returns to Ithaca for a duel against longtime non-conference foe Colgate to end its non-conference season.
The Red (4-4) is still searching for its first road win this season — but the Quakers’ game takes on much more significance than that. Like the Red, the Quakers (5-2-1) struggled in the 2006 season: they won only one conference game in Ivy League play and it came against Cornell.
“We’re happy that the first [conference] game is Penn,” said head coach Danielle LaRoche. “The team has some unfinished business against them from last year. They feel like they could have won the game last year.”
This time around, both teams are much improved and looking to climb out of the Ivy League cellar. Penn is tied with Harvard for the top Ivy record in non-conference play. The Quakers have done it with a proficient offense led by two sophomores — Jessica Fuccello and Jess Rothenheber. Rothenheber scored two goals and an assist in Penn’s last game.
Of course, the Red boasts young talent of its own, led by freshman Lena Russomagno. Russomagno has a total of 16 points to lead all Ivy players. She has teamed with fellow freshman Natalie Zandt to provide the Red with some much-needed offensive firepower.
After losing a hard-fought 1-0 loss in overtime against Bucknell last Sunday, the Red is making a minor adjustment in the starting lineup. Sophomore Kala Nielson caught the coaching staff’s eye with her play in the air and she will be starting as a midfielder against Penn.
“She was great in airballs against Bucknell last week,” LaRoche said. “Penn is especially strong in the air so we’re putting her in the lineup.”
With both teams starting a number of underclassmen, experience will be a big factor in the game. The Red played Bucknell evenly in nearly every category through 90 minutes last weekend, but couldn’t sustain that level of play into overtime as the Bison finally beat goalkeeper Jodie Palmer.
In the second game of the weekend, Cornell will play host to the Colgate Raiders of the Patriot League. This game also holds special meaning for the Red, as the Raiders represent its biggest local rival.
“Colgate is a team we always grind with,” LaRoche said. “We’re non-conference rivals, recruiting rivals, a lot of people seem to mix us up for some reason … this is a grudge match.”
Cornell will be looking to reverse its ugly history against the Raiders on the road by pushing the action aggressively up the field to counter Colgate, who is playing its third game in seven days.
“We’ve had a great of week of training,” said LaRoche. “I think we’re prepared for the Ivy League season. Every game is a conference championship game.”