October 15, 2007

Women’s Soccer Shut Out by Bulldogs

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Cornell’s swoon continued this weekend in New Haven, where the team was shut out, 5-0, by Yale. The Red failed to score a goal for the fifth straight game as its defense struggled to keep up with the Bulldog attack, one of the highest scoring in the league.
The game started with a flurry of activity. It was Cornell (4-8, 0-3 Ivy) who had the earliest scoring chances, as Yale’s (7-5, 2-1) defense looked shaky in the opening few minutes with only three defenders back. Senior midfielder Kara Lewis, who head coach Danielle LaRoche had identified as an experienced player able to rejuvenate the Red’s struggling offense, found herself 1-on-1 two different times after sprinting through the side of the field. Freshman Lena Russomagno, the Red’s leading goal-scorer, fired two unsuccessful long-range strikes at the goal.
But the Red could not capitalize on any of those opportunities — and the Bulldogs made them pay. All-Ivy junior forward Emma Whitfield, broke down the Red defense at the seven minute mark and dished to senior Mary Kuder inside the box. Kuder finished by beating Red freshman goalkeeper Jodi Palmer on the opposite side of the goal. At 10 minutes, sophomore Sophia Merrifield came out with the ball after Palmer and the Red defense could not reel it in, firing past Palmer to make it 2-0.
“It is mentally tough to recover after quick goals,” said Cornell senior defender Leslie Campbell. “We had some chances before they did. It was just that they finished their opportunities and we didn’t. The score wasn’t a fair assessment of how we played.”
Even though the Red lost by its largest margin of the season, it felt that it played better than it had in other losing efforts. On this occasion, the injury-riddled offense was joined by a likewise ineffective defensive unit.
“That was just a case of us losing our focus a couple of times,” Campbell said. “People were losing track of their assignments, we were not doing a solid job defending.”
The defense has been under more pressure in the Red’s five-game losing streak because of the stagnant offense. Sophomore forward Eva Dixon has been in and out of the lineup with various injuries and freshman Natalie Zandt’s rookie campaign is over with a torn ACL.
“We’ve had injuries, but I think with the girls coming in off the bench, we don’t lose anything,” Campbell said. “It’s not a matter of understanding the [zonal] system, it’s a matter of execution.”
The Red, who wanted to be contenders in the Ivy League this season, has fallen short of its goals thus far. Still, with four Ivy League games remaining on the schedule, Campbell is optimistic that it can get a few games in the win column and spoil some teams’ title hopes.
“This league has a lot of parity, and we think teams could underestimate us because of some of our results,” Campbell said.