February 20, 2009

Red Ends Season on Road

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After successfully securing a position in the ECAC playoffs, the Red (11-11-5, 7-8-5 ECAC) hits the road for its last games of the regular season, competing against RPI today before traveling to Union tomorrow.
With Rensselaer (14-13-4, 9-8-3 ECAC) just two points ahead of Cornell in the ECAC standings, the Red is hoping to demonstrate its powerful offensive talent in order to halt the Engineers. RPI’s lead scorers are junior forward Whitney Naslund and freshman forward Alisa Harrison, who are tied at 26 points apiece.
In comparison, sophomore forward Rebecca Johnston leads Cornell with 40 points, consisting of 22 goals and 18 assists. Additionally, freshman forward Catherine White is not too far behind with 38 points from 15 goals and 23 assists.
Earlier this season at home, the Red was able to beat RPI, 3-2, and hopes to utilize similar strategies to produce a positive outcome.
“We’ve already gone over video from our previous game against RPI, so we know what we did well, and also where we need to make some improvements,” said junior goalie Jenny Niesluchowski.
Union (2-27-3, 0-19-1 ECAC) is another opponent Cornell will take seriously in hopes of coming out on top this weekend. The Dutchwomen are having a rough season, having lost their past 11 games and their most recent win coming in November. In addition, the Red leads the all-time series, including their last matchup, in which Cornell posted a 3-0 shutout.
Not having won a single game at home this season, Union will have a troublesome time as the Red hopes to utilize its momentum and confidence to gain a four-point weekend.
The results of this weekend’s games will be crucial for the Red to determine its exact position in the tournament, as well as determining its future opponent.
“They’re really important games because we’re battling Rensselaer for a good seed in the playoffs, so it’s huge for us. … We’re trying to stick to what we’ve been doing all year, and that’s just playing our best, and we want to get off to a good start the weekend before we begin the playoffs,” said junior forward Liz Zorn.
Interestingly, if the Red could come away with a win against the Engineers, then it definitely has an opportunity to increase its seed from the No. 8 position. Similarly, if Cornell loses to RPI, the team will have tough competition in the playoffs, playing one of the best contenders in the ECAC.
Ideally, if the Red could win both road games, which it has a high probability of doing since Cornell has won its two previous contests with both these teams, then there is a good chance that it could sit tight in the No. 7 seed, or even No. 6 seed.
With this knowledge, the Red remains in control of its own future in determining its exact seed and opponent for the playoffs, and hopes to do so by completing a weekend sweep at RPI and Union this weekend.
“This weekend, we’re really hoping to gain some momentum heading into playoffs. We’ve already secured a spot, but two wins this weekend would help no matter who we end up facing,” Niesluchowski said.