April 1, 2010

Women’s Lacrosse Looks to End Losing Skid at Princeton

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It’s a long-standing Ivy League match-up: Princeton and Cornell lacrosse. Unfortunately for the Red, the history of these match-ups has not been favorable for Cornell. No. 17 Princeton has won 28 of the last 30 contests against the Red, including the past 22 games. But the women of Cornell are hoping to prevent a 23rd win for Princeton tomorrow when they face the Tigers at Princeton Stadium in Princeton, N. J.

Cornell (2-3, 1-2 Ivy) heads into its ninth game of the 2010 season coming off a four-game losing streak. Having lost to Loyola at home on March 13th, the Red headed into Spring Break hoping for an improvement in its record. However, the team lost to Harvard, 10-4, and Florida, 10-5, on the road. Last Sunday, the women of Penn earned a 15-6 victory over Cornell at Schoellkopf field to finish off the Red’s Spring Break schedule.

The Red seeks to turn its season around with Saturday’s contest. When asked if it was hard to motivate the team in the backdrop of this losing streak, head coach Jenny Graap said that the team has been using these losses as motivation and hopes that this will lead to a Cornell victory.

“We don’t really look at it negatively,” Graap said. “We’ve been struggling a little and we’re not satisfied with where we are right now. But we’ve been playing hard and we are continually pressing to improve.”

The Penn game was tied at 6-6 until the Quakers scored their seventh goal with 14:42 remaining in the second half. Penn then scored nine unmatched goals, six of which were in the last eight minutes of the game, and earned the victory over Cornell. Junior captain Libby Johnson said that the team is using this recent loss to help improve its play in the Princeton game.

“After the Penn game we had a discussion with the coaches about what happened to cause our breakdown in the second half and about what we can fix to prevent teams from going on runs such as Penn did,” Johnson said. “The Princeton game is really a must-win game for us, so we’ve been mentally and physically preparing all week.”

Graap mentioned that the team has been working on improving its transition game and creating a tighter defensive unit. In addition to commenting on Cornell’s need to clean up its game overall, Graap highlighted the importance of maintaining a consistent level of intensity throughout the game and said that it has been the team’s main focal point in practice this week.

“We’re looking to put together a 60-minute effort and hope for a good result,” Graap said. “We’re still looking for that feeling after the game that we really gave it 100 percent.”

Princeton, under head coach Chris Sailor, is 4-4, and 2-0 in the Ivy League. Its four losses came against Rutgers, No. 5 Duke, No. 12 James Madison and No. 4 Virginia. The Tigers have beaten both Georgetown and Johns Hopkins on the road, and so far remains undefeated in the Ivy League with road wins over Columbia and Brown. Princeton will be looking to up its Ivy record to 3-0 after the Cornell game.

But the women of Cornell are looking to improve their Ivy Record too, and they won’t give up without a fight. Both Graap and Johnson said that the team has put a lot of focus on its Ivy League record this season. Of the eight teams in the league, the top four go to the Ivy tournament at the end of the season. This is one of Cornell’s goals for the 2010 season, which is why the team has put so much importance on its game against Princeton.

“We’ve really made it our focal point this season to be successful in the Ivy League since it’s such a prestigious league in women’s lacrosse,” Johnson said.

The game will take place at 1 p.m. on Saturday in Princeton Stadium. The Red has never played in this venue before, but Graap identified the football stadium setting as a positive aspect because its similarity to Schoellkopf will give the team a sense of familiarity. Graap said she hopes that this familiarity, combined with cleaner stick skills and a positive mindset will earn Cornell a victory.

“Our squad is excited for the opportunity to challenge Princeton. They’re fired up and they’ve been continuing to work hard and improve over the past week.”

Original Author: Katie Schubauer