March 1, 2010

Women’s Lacrosse Falls Short in Season Debut

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Sibling rivalry has played a prominent role in youth sports since the beginnings of organized athletics, but at the highest level of competition, the interaction between brothers and sisters in opposing uniforms creates a fascinating dynamic. Today, Venus and Serena Williams and Peyton and Eli Manning capture the national spotlight as America’s most sought after blood-related athletes, but in the arena of collegiate women’s lacrosse, there is Jessi and Ali Steinberg.

For the last two years, the Red’s meetings with the Scarlet Knights have been one of special significance for the Steinberg family as the twin sisters welcome the opportunity to face each other from opposite sides of the field. This weekend, the outcome of the reunion was bittersweet as Cornell dropped a close season opener to Rutgers, 8-6, in Piscataway, N.J. on Sunday afternoon.

In the presence of 238 fans, the Red battled from behind for the majority of the game, but was unable to take the lead from the Scarlet Knights, whose victory improved its record to 2-0.

Despite coming up short in the contest versus her twin’s squad, sophomore attack Jessi Steinberg has nothing but positive commentary on the game and the experience of playing her sister.

“I always want Ali to do well and I know that she wants me to do well, too,” Steinberg said. “During practice in high school, we would go up against each other in one-on-on situations and it is not that much different now. It worked out that I didn’t have to defend her a lot in the game, but any time we were marking each other, I still made sure I gave 100 percent.”

Despite the loss, Steinberg remained confident in the team’s ability to succeed over the long haul.

“Even though we didn’t win, we can be proud that we have made a lot of progress in the past couple of weeks. We can only go up from here,” Steinberg said.

“Using last week’s game against Albany as a benchmark, I thought that there was immense improvement all over the field. We talk a lot about winning the hustle stats, and I think that was definitely reflected in our play on Sunday,” Hale said.

Cornell’s attack consisted of several key fronts. Junior tri-captain Libby Johnson netted the ball twice and sophomore midfield Olivia Knotts registered two goals in her first career start. Steinberg also buried a shot in the back of the net and dished out an assist in the hard-fought loss.

In the midfield, senior Kaitlyn Giles and sophomore Shannon McHugh spearheaded the strong defensive effort by collecting three groundballs apiece. On the center circle, McHugh also led the team with four draw controls. Together, senior midfield Lindsey Kane and sophomore defense Caroline Helmer combined for six of Cornell’s 19 caused turnovers in the contest. Meanwhile, senior goalkeeper Kristen Reese made a powerful statement between the pipes with six saves, three groundballs, and two caused turnovers.

On the offensive end, the Red out-shot Rutgers, 20-14, but goaltender Lily Kalata’s 10-save performance and Kristen Anderson’s hat trick and assist for four points helped the Scarlet Knights stay on top.

Rutgers was in command for the first 20 minutes of the game with a 4-1 advantage. Johnson was the first to put the Red on the board in regulation this year with two goals assisted by Hale and McHugh. With less than six minutes remaining in the first half, senior attack Kate Dewey narrowed the deficit to one with a rip off of a feed from freshman rookie Lauren Halpern. Dewey’s goal was her first of the season after just returning to the field from an ACL injury she suffered last spring.

Steinberg’s unassisted goal at 27:04 evened the score early in the second half. The Scarlet Knights’ Brooke Cantell answered back, but Knotts rallied to tie the game, 5-5. Anderson scored twice more to put Rutgers up by two. With seven minutes on the clock, Lindsey Watts added yet another goal for the Scarlet Knights. Less than a minute later, Knotts recorded her second point on the day from a set-up by Steinberg.

“It’s great that we have a couple of hard practices in between games because there is an adrenaline rush associated with competitions that will allow us to implement plays and strategies we discussed after Rutgers right away. We are also fortunate to have a series of non-conference games before heading into our Ivy League contests,” Hale said.

Original Author: Jane Peters