November 9, 2007

W. Booters Search For First Ivy Victory

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Cornell will look to close a disappointing season on a high note at home against Columbia this weekend, still searching for its first Ivy League win of the year. Cornell (4-11, 0-6 Ivy) takes the field on its senior day, hoping to mark the occasion by spoiling Columbia’s (7-5-4, 2-3-1) bid for a .500 Ivy League campaign.
The Red will look to feed off the energy of the crowd and its seniors on the defensive line and the midfield, hoping to build on its late goal in the loss to Dartmouth last weekend. After giving up three goals, the Red finally scored — snapping an eight-game scoreless streak dating back to Sept. 21 and before Ivy play even began — in the closing minutes off a shot from senior Mariye Wick. With the pressure of ending the season on a dismal scoreless streak over, the Red will try to stay solid defensively in the face of a five-forward Columbia attack and try to capitalize on its comparatively weak midfield play.
“It’s going to be an emotional day for lots of us,” Wick said. “We just want to end the season with a game to remember, with a fight … we expected [the goal] last week, because we were attacking and we hit the post a couple of times, but we were still kind of surprised when it happened.”
Instead of trying to slowly build an attack and patiently wait for the perfect opportunity to shoot from near the box, the Red will aim to be aggressive from the midfield, shooting often and keeping the ball on Columbia’s side of the field.
“We just want to focus on our strengths, who we have on the field, and not worry about Columbia,” Wick said. “We’ve had trouble with the attack breaking up, so we’re going to try to get ten people in on the attack and keep the pressure on their side.”
Perhaps the one Cornell player who has remained consistently effective on the offensive side is a freshman — Lean Russomagno, who continues to put shots on goal in nearly every outing. Russomagno is at her best when she is able to play off the ball, letting the midfielders create an opportunity or cleaning up a rebound for a quick strike.
But if the Red truly has a shot to win on Saturday, the defense will have to rise to the occasion. Cornell has given up an astounding 15 goals in seven Ivy League games, almost twice as many as the nearest Ivy League team. They have often come in the opening minutes, putting immediate pressure on the injury-riddled front line to climb back into the contest.
It will be a challenge for the defense to hold back the Columbia forwards tomorrow, with the Lions featuring a five-forward lineup. The unit will have to be more organized than it has been and communicate effectively for the zone defense to hold up. If it does, Wick and the other midfielders can concentrate on creating scoring opportunities.