March 6, 2009

W. Lacrosse Aims to Remain Undefeated

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Riding on the energy and momentum gained from last weekend’s overtime victory, the No. 14 women’s lacrosse team heads on the road for the first time this season. Cornell (2-0) faces off against instate foe, No. 20 Hofstra, tomorrow afternoon.
“We are excited to play this weekend and to put everything together and play a full 60 minutes,” said junior Kate Dewey. “We are focusing on playing Cornell lacrosse and playing as a team. This week we have been focusing on attack and full field play.”
Despite the Pride (3-0) leading the overall series with the Red 3-2, the Red won last year’s contention in an impressive manner, 14-3. Having lost the past two games on the road against Hofstra, Cornell is ready to bring its endurance and talent on the field in hopes to add another triumph this weekend.
“After pulling out the OT win against Rutgers, our team has used this week in practice to focus on the importance of playing with intensity from the first whistle of the game,” said junior Morgan Hale.
The Hofstra matchup gives the squad additional practice and preparation for conference play. In addition, the Red has had some experience against members of the Colonial Athletic Conference, boasting a 10-4 record.
“Against any competitor, our team takes pride in setting the pace of the game through proactive play and intense pressure all over the field. This season, our athleticism and depth enable us to do this for the entirety of the game,” said Hale. “For the game against Hofstra, we are focused on our biggest team challenge, which will be putting together 60 minutes of confident, consistent play at both ends of the field.” [img_assist|nid=35875|title=Get out the way|desc=Senior captain Deirdre Lafferty (7) evades a Colgate opponent at Schoellkopf Field on Feb. 25.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Pride has been on a winning streak after defeating Brown last weekend. Hofstra junior Corrine Gandolfi leads the offense with 16 points, and junior Alysse Ruszkowski leads the team with 10 caused turnovers and nine ground balls. Cornell’s biggest challenge is goalie Mary Cuddihy, who posts 6.65 goals against average and a .559 save percentage.
“Hofstra is always an athletic team who can score quick goals if they gain momentum. Our game plan is just sticking to how we play best: possessing the ball on attack and being proactive on defense,” said sophomore defender Cara Grealy.
The Red, on the other hand, has shown opponents its tough offensive and defensive talent. Leading its opponents with twice as many caused turnovers, Cornell’s defensive unit is remaining solid in the back, allowing only 14 goals and a 6.47 goals against average.
“As a unit we want to have both ends of the field (offense and defense) feeding off one another’s high-energy play — if the defense comes up with a big stop, our midfield will transition the ball to an attack that is ready to execute,” Hale said.
This week in practice, the team has been focusing on sharpening these skills to contribute to a strong overall presence on the field.
“This week, we’ve been focusing a lot on our attack because in our first two games we had a really tough time scoring and creating things on offense,” said Grealy. “Our coaches really wanted to get us back to playing our game — being smart on attack, staying aggressive on defense, and fighting to win the 50/50 balls. That can make a huge difference in the outcomes of close games.”
Senior captains Deirdre Lafferty and Jessica Wiegand have definitely proven their positions on the team, being named the Ivy League Defensive Player of the Week and on the honor roll, respectively.
With new young players to complement the returning superstars, the Red’s strategy is to keep possession of the ball while maintaining its stamina.
“This weekend’s game is very important because we have yet to play the way we know we are capable of,” said Grealy. “We are looking forward to playing together as a unit and implementing the things we’ve been working on in practice. I think we are ready to get win number three on Saturday.”