April 15, 2010

Women’s Lacrosse Looks to Stay Alive in Ivy League Hunt

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The women’s lacrosse team will look to stay alive in the race for the last spot in the Ivy League Tournament when it visits Brown today. The Red will travel to Providence this afternoon, where it has a 4 p.m. matchup with the Bears at Brown’s Cliff Stevenson Field.In Providence, the Red (3-7, 2-3 Ivy) will take on a red-hot Brown team (7-4, 2-3 Ivy) that has won five of its last six contests –– its only loss coming to No. 6 Dartmouth –– and is also a contender for the final spot in the Ivy League Tournament. “We know that the pressure is on, but it’s a pressure we know we can perform under because we were up against Princeton and we knew that that was a really important win for us,” said senior midfielder/defenseman Morgan Hale, referring to Cornell’s 11-8 victory over Princeton earlier this month.The Red maintains that it is ready for the challenge and will be looking to shut down Brown’s explosive offense –– which has outscored opponents, 80-42, in the first half –– by disrupting its defensive game.  “Brown’s defensive style is unique and a lot of opponents are not necessarily ready for [it] in the first half of the game, so that gives the advantage to the Brown offense,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “Because it’s later in the season now and we’ve had a bit more time to prepare for Brown, I hope that we’re able to close the gap a little bit there and have a stronger first half going against [their] defense. Additionally, we’re looking for our offensive unit to be disciplined with ball movement and player movement and to create and generate excellent scoring opportunities.”The Red also knows its weaknesses and what it will need to do in order to hold back the high-powered Brown offense. “We haven’t been able to efficiently move the ball from one side of the field to the other,” said senior midfielder/defenseman Tissy O’Connor. “Communication is going to be really big for us [today].  It always is but I think this game we’re trying to stress it even more because we can’t have communication breakdowns in a must-win game.”Something going for the Red (which is 16-14 overall in the series with Brown) today is that it has defeated Brown 10 times in their last 10 meetings. That said, the team is not underestimating the fiery Bears who, according to O’Connor, “have an exceptional offense this year … maybe the best Brown offense that our program has seen in the last [few] years.”

The Red began the season fairly slow but picked up its game soon after a March 28 loss to No. 7 Penn, 15-6.  The next week the Red took down previously undefeated (in Ivy League play) Princeton and suffered a close loss last weekend at the hands of the Green.

“Our strategy hasn’t changed, our style hasn’t changed; every game we stay true to Cornell Lacrosse,” O’Connor said. “We’re in a position where we’re right in the middle of our league –– along with Brown and Yale –– and those are the only two games left in the Ivy League that we have to play.”

In order to qualify for the inaugural Ivy League Tournament, the Red will have to battle it out with both Brown and Yale (5-7, 2-3 Ivy) for the No. 4 spot in the Ancient Eight standings. With only three games (including today’s matchup with Brown and next week’s with Yale) left in the season the last Tournament berth is still up for grabs and the Red’s much-improved recent play makes it a real possibility that that last spot could go to the team from Ithaca.

Original Author: Zach Waller