April 7, 2008

W. Lacrosse Sneaks By No. 20 Dartmouth

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With four seconds left on the clock, senior midfielder Katherine Simmons made perhaps the biggest play of the game by more or less standing still. Cornell was ahead, 10-9, but Dartmouth had possession and was pushing to the goal. Simmons stepped up and took the charge from a driving Green attacker, which returned possession to the home team. While it was just one clutch play in a game full of drama, it was one that allowed the Red to preserve the 10-9 win — Cornell’s first win in a one-goal game since 2005. The Red also beat a ranked opponent (Dartmouth was ranked No. 20) for the first time since 2006.
The contest was hotly-contested from the beginning. There were three lead changes and the score was tied at five points during the game.
“It was a very emotional game,” said head coach Jenny Graap ‘86. “We expected it to be an emotional game from the outset. [We] came out strong at the beginning of the game and Dartmouth had a lot of momentum at the end of the first half. We really needed to make some adjustments at halftime and come back out strong and make a statement.”
The Red (5-4, 2-2 Ivy) went into the half down 5-3 and Dartmouth (5-4, 1-2) had scored four games in a row. Part of the Green’s success came from shutting down Cornell’s leading scorer, senior Courtney Farrell.
“They definitely played a specific defense against Courtney,” Graap said. “They dedicated one player to face-guard her and really try to deny her the ball all over the field. Courtney did an excellent job of working hard and allowing her teammates to be successful and to step up a bit given that she wasn’t going to be able to handle the ball as much as normal.”[img_assist|nid=29595|title=Stand still|desc=Senior Katherine Simmons made perhaps the biggest play of the game when she took a charge on one of Dartmouth’s last possessions.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Farrell was held to just one point off an assist during the second half. But several players stepped into her shoes to power the Red’s offense. Sophomore attacker Kathryn Dewey scored three goals and registered one assist to lead the Red with four points. Senior midfielder Noelle Dowd also scored three goals and classmate Katherine Simmons scored twice — including the first goal of the game — and dished off a nice assist to freshman attacker Libby Johnson early in the game.
“It was very exciting to see [Dewey] turn it on,” Graap said. “She’s certainly had this potential. She’s a very strong attacker and it’s very exciting to see her step up her performance and I hope she continues to gain confidence and take that with her for the rest of the season.”
For all of the Red’s success on offense, the story of the game may have been the play of sophomore goalkeeper Kristen Reese. Making her first collegiate start, Reese registered 11 saves, including one game-saving save with less than a minute on the clock in the second half.
Reese was unfazed by her first start, citing the support of coaches and teammates in mental preparation for the event. She and fellow netminder, junior Renee Hughes, also worked on stopping low shots all week, something that came in handy against the Green.
“We always have to work on low shots, but it’s a good improving point,” Reese said.
Reese was tested late in the game when several Cornell turnovers off of errant passes gave Dartmouth multiple second chances.
“It was a great sign that we were able to maintain our composure and stay with the moment and let those mistakes go, so that we could continue to be strong down the stretch.”
“Our defensive unit really rose to the challenge and made the stop,” Reese said.
Despite Reese’s stellar play, Graap was noncommittal about who would start in goal in the Red’s next game.
“Obviously Kristen did a great job in her debut and we’re looking for that same consistency at practice,” Graap said. “… Everyone is working to earn playing time during practice. We’re lucky that we have two talented goalies and we’re hoping that they continue to push each other so they get stronger as the season goes on.”