October 10, 2008

Cornell Emphasizes Defense, Confidence

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With fervent hopes of demonstrating its talent and work ethic, the women’s soccer team travels to face Harvard tomorrow in an afternoon matchup. Having played all of its non-conference matches within the state and with its Ivy opener against Columbia in New York City, the Red will compete outside of New York for the first time this year with this weekend’s road contest in Cambridge, Mass.
The Red (1-7-1, 0-2 Ivy) is fired up to return the playing field for this weekend’s Crimson challenge after a disappointing loss to Penn at Berman Field last weekend, 6-0.
“It is a key game, we need to play well to gain a little of [our] lost confidence,” said head coach Danielle LaRoche. “We are a talented team. We just need to believe in ourselves and play like that on the field.”
Coincidentally, Harvard (4-3-3, 1-1) also fell to Penn, 2-0, though the Crimson’s loss came in its Ivy League opener. The Boston-based squad is reenergized, however, after a 3-1 victory over Yale last weekend — a much-needed win, which ended a three-game losing streak for Harvard.
Not having its best season, Harvard continues to adapt its style of game and play with many systems, which makes it difficult for the opponents’ coaches to scout the team and learn about the weaknesses. Despite this unpredictability, Cornell is prepared for any approach.
Cornell and Harvard are no strangers to close competition on the field. Last year, the Crimson took the edge with a 2-0 victory in Ithaca, causing Harvard to lead the all-time series 17-3-6. Cornell last beat Harvard in 1993 in a 1-0 overtime game in Ithaca.
The Crimson has allowed 11 goals in its ten games of the season and has scored ten goals during these contentions. Freshman Melanie Baskind leads the offense with 12 points from four goals and four assists, while sophomore Katherine Sheeleigh scored two goals and two assists, tallying six points. Sophomore goalkeeper, Lauren Mann, has played majority of this season with a .815 save percentage and a 1.17 goals-against average.
It is no surprise that talented sophomore captain Lena Russomagno leads the Red in scoring with six points from two goals and two assists. In addition, sophomore Christina Law and freshman Brook Chang have each tallied two goals. With a trio of goaltenders, Cornell has the luxury of several options for who is in goal. Sophomore Jodi Palmer has played the majority of the season, posting a 2.17 goals-against average and a .718 save percentage.
With the Crimson having two very skilled and dangerous threats, Baskind and Sheeleigh, the Red’s defensive line plans not to allow these forwards to go unchecked. Knowing that defense is going to play a crucial role in the game, LaRoche has practiced various defensive drills this week with the team so that Harvard has little chance of getting close to the goal.
“The beginning [of the season] has been a little rough, but we are really a talented group of players,” said freshman goaltender Kelly Murphy. “I have faith that this team will come together and succeed.”