September 26, 2008

Women’s Soccer Begins Ivy Play, Travels to In-State Rival Colgate

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In the midst of a five-game losing streak, the women’s soccer team opens its Ivy League play tonight as it travels to Columbia to face the Lions. Afterwards, the Red continues on the road to Colgate, our archrival, for a Sunday afternoon matchup before coming home.
Last year, the Red (1-4-1) ended its season in disappointing fashion, losing a tight 2-1 match to the Lions (4-2-1). Cornell will have to use the lessons it learned in that loss to counter Columbia’s up-tempo style and avoid getting off on the wrong foot in Ivy play. Now, the Red is reenergized with a desire to win and a hope to maintain control of the all-time series with the Lions, a 17-5-0 lead.
[img_assist|nid=32115|title=High kick|desc=Freshman defender Sidra Bonner battles against a St. Bonaventure attacker.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Head coach Danielle LaRoche is using this clean slate to energize the team.
“We’re really excited to start Ivy League play. All the games we’ve played so far are tune-ups [for Ivy League games],” LaRoche said.
Unfortunately for Cornell, Columbia is coming off a two-game winning streak after defeating American and Stony Brook last weekend. The Lions boast an efficient offense and stout defense, scoring two goals per game thus far, while letting up less than one per game.
“They are a great team to start with,” LaRoche said. “They play a style of soccer that is very high-pressure, very in your face, very direct which makes them susceptible to counterattacks.”
Throughout practice this week, the Red has been working on a much quicker rhythm and getting rid of the ball faster in the backfield. In addition, the team is working on playing the ball wider down the sidelines to try and counter the Lions’ skill at controlling the ball through the middle.
On Sunday afternoon, Cornell faces off against Colgate (2-7-1), always a competitive battle. Colgate’s head coach Kathy Brawn was an assistant head coach for the Red for a year in the early 90s.
The Red and the Raiders have split the all-time series, each winning 13 games and tying once. Colgate won the last encounter, played at Berman Field, on the strength of three second-half goals. In fact, the Cornell hasn’t beaten Colgate since 2003.
Fortunately for the Red, however, the Raiders are coming off of a 2-0 loss to Princeton on Tuesday and a tie with Hartford last Sunday.
Freshman Danielle Wessler leads the Raiders with seven points on three goals and an assist. In goal, freshman Rebecca Michlin, has played the entire season, amassing a 2.29 goals-against average and a .564 save percentage. Although Colgate has scored 10 goals on the season, the defense has given up 24 goals. The Raiders have been plagued this season by the injury bug, giving the Red hope it can come away with a win.
“I think we can come away this weekend 2-0 easily on the road if we play our game and are really smart,” LaRoche said. “… A 2-0 weekend will definitely be a confidence boost.”