February 28, 2011

Cornell Falls to Rutgers in First Game of Season

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After putting up a strong fight, the Red (0-1) fell to Rutgers (2-0) last Saturday at Schoellkopf Field. Following this 11-7 defeat, the Red will look to bring in a win at home against local rival Colgate (2-1) tomorrow at 4 p.m.

Early in the first period of the Rutgers game, junior tri-captain and attacker Jessi Steinberg scored an unassisted goal; however, the Scarlet Knights responded with three subsequent goals by Stephanie Anderson and Marlena Welsh. Though the Red was able to log two more goals in the first period, Rutgers scored a total of seven, giving them the lead, 7-3.

Going into the second period trailing, Cornell got things rolling with a goal by junior midfielder Katie Kirk, but this victory was answered less than a minute later by a Rutgers goal. The remainder of the period resulted in a total of four goals by both teams, with the heated match ending in a Scarlet Knights victory, 11-7.

Head coach Jenny Graap suggests that Cornell’s loss was a consequence of both Rutgers’s athletic abilities and the Red’s lack of experience this season.

“Rutgers was an athletic and physical team. They dominated the draw control, which put a lot of pressure on our defensive unit. We lost our composure when we were trailing and started to rush our offense,” Graap said.

Senior tri-captain and attacker Libby Johnson, who contributed one goal and one assist in this game, suggests that part of Rutgers’ strength last Saturday came from their goalie Lily Kalata, who made a total of 11 saves.

“[Rutgers] played really well; they already had one game under their belt, so they had more experience [than us]. They were very fast in midfield and their goalie played a really good game,” Johnson said.

Steinberg also acknowledges that the Red did not exhibit its true playing abilities against Rutgers.

“I think we all played a little sloppy … Everyone’s capable of playing way beyond anything we showed against Rutgers,” Steinberg said.

The tri-captain also asserts that Rutgers’ powerful showing was by and large due to its experience prior to Saturday’s game.

“They came off a close game [last week] so I think they learned a lot. [Rutgers] played clean and they didn’t make a lot of mistakes; they stepped up their game,” said Steinberg.

The Red, playing its first game of the season, needed a little time to warm up.

“I think we knew that Rutgers was going to be a … very physical team, but it took us a while to adjust to their playing style,” added junior tri-captain and defender Caroline Helmer.

Sophomore attacker Caroline Salisbury and junior midfielder Shannon McHugh also contributed to the Red’s scoring, logging one goal apiece.

In the wake of its loss to Rutgers, the Red must pull together in order to face the Colgate team, which has already earned two strong wins against Stony Brook and Syracuse. Led by senior midfielder Colleen Bubnack, Colgate defeated Vermont on Sunday, 20-14. Bubnack registered nine points, a career high, while teammate junior attacker Katie Sullivan netted five goals. Though Colgate was only ahead by two goals at the end of the first period, the Raiders pulled off thirteen goals in the final period while Vermont scored only nine.

Despite a rough first game, Johnson is not fazed by this week’s challenge. Instead, she sees the game against Colgate as a great opportunity to show off Cornell’s true talent and to work on developing the Red’s teamwork and cohesion.

“Our only expectation is to play better than on Saturday and to come together as a team. We have high hopes for the season and we want to get started on setting that tone now. Our strengths are our speed and the sort of way that we can … rely on each other [on the field], and we have very good team chemistry,” Johnson said.

Cornell takes on Colgate tomorrow and has the home field advantage.

“Last year [Colgate] was a very close game, so we won’t take it lightly,” Steinberg added.

The Red has learned a lot from its game against Rutgers and plans on using that knowledge to defeat the Raiders.

“Colgate is a local rival of ours, so a lot of us have played against these players in the past, and we know a lot about them. We [just] need to work on using everyone’s strengths to their full potential,” Helmer said.

So far, the team feels as though they are on the right track.

“We are coming together very nicely. Our strength is that we are getting better day by day, practice by practice,” Steinberg said.

Original Author: Alane Trafford