September 4, 2009

Newcomers Will See Ample Time in W. Soccer’s Opener

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The women’s soccer team starts off its season this weekend, playing host to Binghamton today, and then traveling to face Niagara on Sunday.
“We are just excited to play,” said junior co-captain Lena Russomagno. “After preseason, after practicing a lot, we are just excited to get out there and show what we’ve got and show what we’ve been doing in practice.”
The Red’s first matchup will be against Binghamton, a team that’s coming off a pair of losses last weekend at Delaware and Saint Joseph’s. Binghamton edges out Cornell in the series between the teams, 1-0-1, and tied Cornell the last time the two teams met, back in 2004.
Owing to a unique situation — the Red’s head coach Danielle LaRoche used to serve as Binghamton’s assistant coach before coming to Ithaca — Cornell should find it easier to anticipate what to expect from the Bearcats. This added insight into the competition should come in handy when strategizing for the contest.
“That familiarity has led us to know some details about how they play and what to expect more than any other school that we’re going to face this weekend,” said head coach Danielle LaRoche.
Not unlike Cornell, Binghamton has quite a few new players on its roster this season. The Bearcats will most likely start five or six of their new players in today’s game, which might tip the scale of experience in Cornell’s favor.
“We are very interested in taking our more experienced team and kind of going at them a little bit,” LaRoche said.
After the Binghamton match, Cornell will go up against Niagara, a slightly more experienced team. Niagara is coming off of an impressive 2-1 win over Colgate last weekend, and so the Red will strive to break their early success. Niagara and Cornell are tied 1-1-0 in team series, with the Red picking up the more recent win in 2007’s 2-1 match.
The plan is to, “find out where they are weak and go after them, because they’re a little more camouflaged in where they’re struggling, because they have a little older, more experienced team,” LaRoche said.
These first two matches will be a chance for the Red to get the jitters out and assess how prepared the team is at this point in the season. Cornell holds no doubts that both its new and returning players are playing competitively already.
“I’m happy how deep the team is in the fact that for every position, people are having to fight for playing time and fight for their starting position,” LaRoche said. “Where some teams and some players would see that as a negative, the girls have really embraced it and understand that this is what’s going to make us a better team.”
The Red’s two team captains, Lena Russomagno and Katie Hayes, as well as the returning players will guide the team this weekend. Russomagno returns as the leading scorer from last season, tallying nine points. In net, sophomores Kelly Murphy and Megan Bartlett will share playing time. There will be opportunities for the freshmen to get playing time and experience as well.
“We’re not going to start a large number of them, but I think by the end of the game, I think a large number of freshmen will have seen some playing time,” LaRoche said.
The Red is a relatively young team this year, with 11 freshmen and nine sophomores on the roster. While the new players on the team don’t have as much collegiate experience as others, they certainly have the talent to contribute.
“With the new team, and just how we’re looking in practice and how all of the freshmen have stepped up, and the upperclassmen have come back in great shape, looking great, looking ready to play, I think we have a good chance against both these teams this weekend to come out with two wins,” Russomagno said.