October 19, 2007

W. Soccer Tackles Bears

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The women’s soccer team will attempt to snap a five-game losing streak tomorrow afternoon, when it hosts the Brown Bears. Cornell (4-8-0, 0-3 Ivy) is looking to bounce back from a lopsided loss at Yale, while Brown (3-7-0, 1-2-0 Ivy) is coming off a 3-1 loss at local rival Rhode Island.
The coaching match­up pits the Red’s first year head coach Danielle La­Roche against Brown’s veteran coach Phil Pin­cince. Pincince has led the Bears’ women’s soccer program for 29 seasons, and is the 12th winningest coach in NCAA history. He is very well known and respected throughout the soccer community, and has been around long enough that he was one of the coaches recruiting LaRoche when she was coming out of high school — in 1991.
“It’s a little bit cool for me to coach against a person that could have coached me in college,” LaRoche said. “It will be interesting to see how the game plays out with me and my fiery energy versus his older, more conservative approach.”
LaRoche added that the team was very disappointed in its performance at Yale last weekend, but that its Wednesday practice was one of its best this year. She wants the team to set the tone and dictate play early versus Brown, something that it did not do last week.
“We let Yale get into their rhythm and play their game,” LaRoche said. “We want to play our game against Brown and instead of just mirroring anyone else’s.”
Brown comes in with a 2-5-1 road record, which bodes well for the Red. Cornell will enjoy home field advantage tomorrow at Berman Field, where it is 4-2-0 this season.
The Red’s lo­sing streak parallels an offensive rut, during which it has not managed to score. Midseason injuries to freshman midfielder Natalie Zandt and sophomore Eva Dixon had played roles in the offense’s struggles, in addition to poor finishing on scoring opportunities. Dixon, who is tied for the team lead in assists, returned to the starting lineup against Yale, and will look to be an offensive catalyst in the middle of the field.
One goal may make all the difference in Saturday’s game. Brown’s sophomore goalkeeper Steffi Yellin ranks second in saves in the Ivy, while Cornell freshman goalkeeper Jodi Palmer ranks third. What’s more, Brown is sixth in goals per game in the Ivy, while the Red is last.
The Red defense, which lost focus after giving up two early goals to Yale in its last game, will need to contain a very balanced Brown attack. Senior Julia Shapira, and juniors Lindsay Cunningham and Jamie Mize are tied for the team lead in points. La­Roche said that the team will make some adjustments for tomorrow’s game to restrain the Bears’ offense.
“We are definitely considering making some changes, as we review our game tape, but have not yet determined what those changes will be,” LaRoche said.