October 26, 2007

Cornell Targets First Ivy Win at Princeton

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Powers Field at Princeton Stadium will be the site of tomorrow’s women’s soccer game, when the Red kicks off against the Tigers at 1 pm.
Cornell (4-9-0, 0-4-0 Ivy) is trying to break out of a six-game losing streak, and is coming off a 4-0 home loss to Brown. Princeton (7-5-1, 3-1-0) is ranked No. 4 in the Mid-Atlantic Region according to Soccer Buzz magazine and second in the Ivy League. The Tigers can keep its Ivy championship hopes alive with a win.
Ever since a 2-1 overtime victory over Niagara over a month ago, the Red’s season has hit a rough patch. In the squad’s winless streak — dating back to Sept. 21 — the team has not registered a goal while the defense has surrendered four and five goals, respectively, in its last two Ivy games. The Red defense surrendered only one goal in each of its first two Ivy tilts. Junior defender Whitney Stich attributes the recent defensive struggles to organization in the back, among other things.
“We’ve had some trouble communicating in our end the last few games, for whatever reason,” Stich said. “I think we also need to need to work on our mental endurance, and avoid getting rattled after giving up a goal.”
Princeton enters the weekend still controlling its own destiny in pursuit of the Ivy championship. The Tigers had its seven-game win streak snapped last weekend with a 4-2 loss at Harvard. If the squad wins out in its final three games — which includes a match at first-place Penn — Princeton will win the league and secure the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. The Red’s strong performance against Harvard, a 1-0 loss, is a source of confidence for the squad.
“We always go into every game thinking that we’re going to win and that we’re going to score some goals,” Stich said. “Knowing that we had a great shot at beating Harvard, a team that Princeton lost to, should definitely help us mentally.”
The Tigers’ offense has been both extremely productive and balanced throughout the year. Princeton has had 11 different scorers this season, led by midfielders Diana Matheson and Jen Om, who have four goals apiece. Matheson also leads the team in assists (7) and points (15).
While the team’s defense is its weakness — it’s six goals allowed in conference play is second worst to Cornell’s 11 — its offensive output of 1.85 goals per game (second in the Ivy League) has kept the squad afloat.
The Red, who is 0-6-0 on the road this year, will have little room for error tomorrow as the Tigers have yet to lose at home.
“We’re trying to put together 90 minutes of strong play,” Stich said. “We’ve been playing intense soccer for 10 or 15 minutes at a time, then slack off for a few minutes — and that’s where we’ve been getting hurt.”
Cornell dominated the series with Princeton in the early 90s, winning six straight from 1990-1995. The Red has lost every match since, though, spanning 11 matchups.
Though Princeton plays on artificial turn, the game may get sloppy as the forecast is calling for rainfall in the area from today until Sunday. It will be broadcast on local television channel Comcast Sports.