April 25, 2008

W. Lax Takes On Harvard in Last Ivy Game of Season

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The No. 15 women’s lacrosse team will wrap up its Ivy League season tomorrow against Harvard. The Red is looking to learn from the rough 19-7 defeat to Syracuse it suffered last time it took the field.
“We just move on,” said senior midfielder Katherine Simmons of the loss to Syracuse. “It doesn’t mean anything if we don’t learn from it in the end. We’re not going to sit and feel bad for ourselves. … It’s a reality check, we still really want to play in the [NCAA] tournament.”
The NCAA tournament field is 16 teams deep. Teams can either make the tournament by gaining an automatic bid by winning their conference, or by earning one of the eight at-large bids. With the Ivy League title out of the question for Cornell, it must finish the season as one of the eight-best teams that didn’t win their conference. Currently ranked 15th nationally, the Red essentially faces a must-win against the Crimson if it wants to keep its tournament hopes alive.
And although Cornell has moved on from its loss to Syracuse, it will see many of the Orange’s trademarks when it matches up with Harvard. Crimson head coach Lisa Miller was on the Orange’s sidelines up until this season. Miller led Syracuse to six NCAA tournament appearances in 10 seasons. Freshman attacker Libby Johnson mentioned aggressiveness and “being difficult all over the field” in particular as two traits that the Red will need to look out for this weekend.[img_assist|nid=30219|title=Ready, aim, fire|desc=Senior Charlotte Schmidlapp (23) will compete in her last Ivy game tomorrow at Harvard. Schmidlapp registered an assist last season against the Crimson.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
In addition, the Crimson plays a zone defense, which is something the Red has very little experience with.
“They play a zone defense, which is different than any other team we’ve played,” Simmons said. “Our attacks need to change up their gameplan.”
“They play a zone defense so we’ve been practicing how to score against that,” Johnson said.
Johnson is incidentally the team’s leading scorer in Ivy League games. She has 18 points on 12 goals and six assists during league contests. Johnson is shooting 80 percent during those games and has made both of her free-position attempts.
Despite its best efforts in the Syracuse game, the offense often faltered when it failed to communicate. After Syracuse went on a 7-1 run, the team got into a hole and often tried to do too much on offense, rather than sticking to its gameplan.
“We were with them for a little while at the beginning of the game,” Johnson said. “Then they started to score goals and we made it convenient for them to keep scoring goals instead of stepping up and getting it back. We definitely could have played with a little more emotion and intensity and once they started to get up on us. … We could have done better.”
When the team started pressing on offense, communication broke down and players tried to fix the problems by themselves.
“When we stop talking, we stop playing together,” Simmons said. “When we let the score or momentum get in our heads or we don’t believe that we can be on top or pull out a win, then we break down and start playing as individuals.”
“It helps on the field to hear your teammates on the field telling you that they can help you,” Johnson said. “It makes you more reassured and confident. All over the field, we need to help each other out more than we did before.”
Harvard leads the all-time series with the Red, 19-9, but Cornell has taken all nine of its victories in the last nine games. Despite the recent run of success against the Crimson, the Red knows that it has its hands full with Harvard’s coaching change and offensive standouts — Kaitlin Martin has 54 points on 33 goals and 21 assists.
“This is a huge game for us,” Simmons said. “If we want to secure our place in the Ivy League we need to win. Harvard’s a really good team, our coach already told us that she thinks it’s the best team she’s ever seen [from Harvard].”