April 4, 2008

Women’s Lax Looks to Halt Skid

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The women’s lacrosse team returns to Schoellkopf this weekend looking to end its current four game losing skid as it hosts Dartmouth tomorrow. The afternoon game is one that the Red feels it needs to win in order to get their season back on track.
“We are almost ready to start again,” said head coach Jenny Graap ‘86. “We are 4-4, so we are kind of neutral with where we are. We are kind of looking at this week in particular, as we prepare for Dartmouth, as a very important week to turn the tide in the season.”
Cornell (4-4, 1-2 Ivy) knows it will be in tough against a perennially talented Dartmouth (5-4, 1-2) squad that is very competitive and has played tough against some of the country’s top teams. The Green will be looking to cement its place as one of the elite Ivy programs this year.
“Dartmouth is always a strong team in the league and in the nation,” Graap said. “They were in the final four just 2 years ago and they present a tremendous challenge. They are athletic and they are very physical. I think that we expect it to be kind of a heated and emotional contest if you will in that they will be scrapping and fighting hard and so will we. They are probably equally hungry for the win.”
Graap expects the Green to threaten around the crease. However. she thinks that her team sizes up well against the Green’s players and expects the game to be challenging and intense. Dartmouth’s attack will be spearheaded by senior attacker Kristen Barry, an All-Ivy League first team selection last season, who already has 22 goals and eight assists this year to lead her team.
“Going into the Dartmouth game, I think we are going to heighten our work around the crease to counter their strengths around the crease,” Graap said. “They are very dominant, a very good team, in working their offense around the crease. We are going to hopefully be ready for that strength. Kristen Barry continues to be a strong impact player for them. She is one of their senior leaders. I think we match-up pretty evenly with them in a lot of respects. I think it will be a great game for sure. It will be an emotional and physical contest, I think.”
The Red comes into this game following last weekend’s loss to Princeton, which featured some shaky defense that enabled the Tigers to post 19 goals. Graap noted that her squad was able to learn a lot from that game and looks to improve on its weaknesses in the games to come.
“We certainly came away from that contest feeling that we needed to communicate more on the defensive end and play more cohesively in the backfield,” Graap explained. “On the positive side, we felt that we were able to continue our fight, our effort and our intensity throughout the game even when we were down.”[img_assist|nid=29505|title=Batman’s got nothing on us|desc=Cornell faces a formidable opponent in Dartmouth, but does not feel intimidated.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
In the Princeton game, Graap used a lot of substitutions and made a goaltending switch at the half. She explained that she used the mid-game line-up changes to give some playing time to her players that had been working hard in practice as well as a way to inspire and motivate her starters.
“We are always looking to reward the effort that we see in practice and I think some of the substitutions that you saw in the Princeton game were to get some players time that have really earned it in practice … and to challenge our starters to keep working for those positions,” Graap said. “I think we are lucky that we have a pretty deep team and that we can look to our bench and get some significant contributions for our bench.”
Though the Red is in the midst of a four game losing streak, Graap does not think that the team is panicking or overwhelmed with pressure. She maintains that if her squad keeps up their hard work and dedication, then the wins will eventually come.
“I don’t sense that we are deflated which is a good thing,” Graap explained. “Our effort has been there in all of these games. The competition has certainly escalated. We are at a point in our season where we are playing some very impressive teams. I think that we need to keep elevating our own game and we need to be aware of all of the fundamental pieces that are necessary: the effort, the intensity, the teamwork, the communication. All these things that we have been working on all along really need to be there in every game.”