March 27, 2009

W. Lacrosse Takes a Shot at Princeton at Home

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Women’s lacrosse (5-2) will face one of its most formidable opponents of the season at 3 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field tomorrow in an Ancient Eight matchup with Princeton (7-1).
The Red’s bitter rivalry with the No. 6 Tigers has only resulted in two Cornell wins. Although clearly the underdogs, the team has had a game-free week to recuperate from disappointing losses over spring break — including a league game against Penn — and now has the chance to set the record straight on home turf.
To win against the Tigers, head coach Jenny Graap ’86 commented that “it’s going to take an excellent team effort. We need confidence and a unified execution where we’re all working together.”
Despite recent losses Cornell has gained strength and knowledge from its recent games against Loyola (9-16) and Penn (2-14).
Junior midfielder Tissy O’Connor, who plays an impacting role in the team’s upper-classman leadership, remarked, “it was good to see that level of competition and elevate our own game.”
In learning from their most recent game against Penn (2-14), Graap notes “we need to make sure we’re ready to go at the start of the game.”
With a full week of practices the Red has had the opportunity to address every aspect of the game. Graap felt that offensive execution had become more dynamic, and transitioning the ball up the field was improving. [img_assist|nid=36324|title=Back off|desc=Sophomore attack Libby Johnson (44) and the Red offense will have a tough time getting past Princeton goalie Erin Tochihara, who made a career-high 16 saves against Duke recently.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We know now what led to the poor performances,” Graap said.
Defensively, O’Connor noted that “we have been working on playing against a faster paced offense, playing together, and having more direct communication on defense.”
The has been prepping fiercely for good reason. The Tigers come to Ithaca off a decisive win against Temple (13-4) on Wednesday. The Red will be Princeton’s first Ivy League competition. The Tigers are currently riding a 4 game winning streak, including a narrow (8-7) victory against UVA.
Graap commented that Princeton, averaging 11 goals per game, poses a strong threat particularly on the attacking end. The Red will also face Tiger sophomore goalkeeper Erin Tochihara, who was recently awarded the Defensive Player of the Week by the Ivy League in acknowledgement of her career high of 16 saves against Duke.
The last time the two teams met was on Princeton’s home turf, a game where the Tigers came out on top, 19-10. Although the Red will be fighting against the odds, O’Connor notes a better feel about their post spring break play helped along by good weather.
“We’ve had really strong practices,” said O’Connor.
Despite the strength of the opposition, “on any given day things can happen,” Graap said, undaunted by the Tigers. “We can’t worry about all the years past, I think we just have to recognize that it’s an opportunity for us to show what we’re all about.”