April 18, 2008

No. 18 Women’s Lax Hosts Yale For Senior Day

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The women’s lacrosse team has had a lot to celebrate as of late. The laxers are in the midst of a four-game winning streak and made their debut in the IWLCA top-20 as the No. 18 team in the nation.
Tomorrow, as Yale comes to Ithaca, the Red will be celebrating once again. Cornell will be honoring its seven seniors at Schoellkopf Field on Senior Day in what promises to be an emotional contest. Head coach Jenny Graap ’86 explains that this year’s seniors are an integral part of the team’s character and success.
“This year’s team is really shaped by the senior class and a lot of terrific leadership in that senior class that I think inspires all of us,” Graap said.
The seniors to be honored tomorrow are defensemen Ashleigh Smith and Marla Diakow, midfielders Noelle Dowd, Amanda Linnertz and Katherine Simmons and attackers Courtney Farrell and Charlotte Schmidlapp.
The game will start at 1 p.m. tomorrow and will be the Red’s last home Ivy League game of the season. This matchup is one that could have serious post-season implications for both teams, leading Graap to believe that the level of intensity will be high. Graap expects a competitive and hard-fought game from the Bulldogs, who are currently ranked 14th in the country.[img_assist|nid=29981|title=Hot hot hot|desc=Senior Katherine Simmons, who has tallied 10 goals in the last three games, is on the attack in the Red’s 13-9 win over Stanford on Sunday.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Yale comes into this game having won seven of its last eight games, the only loss being to now-No. 2 Princeton. The Bulldogs are led by senior attacker Lauren Taylor, a Tewaaraton Trophy candidate, who has 39 goals and 18 assists in just 15 games this season.
Graap recognized that her team’s success will largely depend on its ability to neutralize Taylor on the attack.
“[Taylor] has had a storied career over her four years at Yale, actually winning Ivy League Rookie of the Year as a freshman,” Graap said. “We are going to do our best to try and limit her opportunities.”
Graap looks for her team’s continued improvement on both the offensive and defensive end. She thinks that her team is now playing together and communicating well, and the results are showing.
“The defensive aspect of the game has been key for us in particular,” Graap said. “At this point in the season, the attack has really started to gel.”
Cornell’s offense has been fairly dominant of late, posting 45 total goals over its last three games. Graap credits a large part of that success to the recent exceptional performances of senior Katherine Simmons, who has notched 10 goals in that three game span.
Simmons earned Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors for her outstanding play against Brown and Stanford. Graap explains that Simmons is now finding her scoring touch after making a return from injury and looks for Simmons to continue contributing offensively.
The Red’s recent success has not come without some controversy, as Graap now faces a goaltending dilemma. Graap has been alternating goalies of late, including some in-game changes. Both goalies, junior Renee Hughes and sophomore Kristen Reese, have provided the team with stellar performances this season.
Graap did not reveal which of her goalies will get the nod tomorrow, but believes that she is fortunate to be in this type of situation.
“It is definitely a strength of ours to have two solid keepers,” Graap said. “We definitely use our practices to see who is playing well leading up to the game.”
Though the Red is in the middle of a four-game winning streak, Graap does not think that her team has developed any type of complacency.
“The seniors on the team have not let that happen,” Graap said. “They would quash any feelings like that before they developed.”