March 10, 2011

Columbia Matchup Will Prove Key to Ivy Success for Women Laxers

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The Cornell women’s lacrosse team will travel to Baltimore, Md. on Friday to face Loyola (4-0) and New York, N.Y. on Sunday to take on conference foe Columbia (0-2, 0-1 Ivy League). This is the first time this season that the Red (1-2, 0-1) will be on the road.“This is our first game away so everyone is really excited to show we can play well at other schools as well as at home,” said junior midfielder Shannon McHugh.“Road games are definitely more of a mental challenge,” added junior defenseman and tri-captain Caroline Helmer. “We spend a lot of time on the bus … and there is less time to get ready, but we really try to focus on what we need to work on and visualize us coming out on top.”Previous games against Rutgers, Colgate and Harvard have provided the team with the chance to get a feel for its dynamic.“People are definitely playing well together,” said junior midfielder Katie Kirk. “We have nine returners and it’s a huge advantage.”“We’ve seen that we can score a lot of goals in a short amount of time, and it’s really important that we pull everything from the first three games,” said junior attackman and tri-captain Jessi Steinberg.The experience has also given the team the chance to see what it needs to work on skill-wise.“We’re working on trying to be consistent,” Kirk said. “As for attack, we want to keep our speed up, move the ball and take high percentage shots.”“This week we have been focusing on our weaknesses, working on defensive transition and better defense overall,” added senior defenseman Cara Grealy. “Specifically for Loyola, they’re very experienced in the attacking end … they like to score and usually score a lot of goals.”Loyola has established itself as a very competitive lacrosse program over the past few years, and this season the team is already off to a promising start. In last year’s matchup between the two squads, the Red fell to the Greyhounds, 11-9.“We know Loyola is a great program, they’ve really stepped up over the last couple of years, and we’re excited to play a great team,” Helmer said.“We’ve been working really hard on our draw skills so we can control the pace of the game … Loyola is a very high paced attack,” McHugh added.Sunday’s game will prove to be important as Cornell looks to improve its record in the Ivy League after suffering a close loss to Harvard last Saturday. Sunday’s matchup with Ivy foe Columbia will give Cornell a chance to get back on even footing with the rest of its Ancient Eight competition.“It’s obviously a huge Ivy game and we want to make a big impression on the league …  [The team is] definitely excited for Columbia,” Kirk said.“We’re focusing on Loyola first, but for Columbia … we’re going to have to make sure we have our heads focused because the Ivy League is really important, and we would like to get that record even. Last year we only beat them by two, so they gave us a pretty [tough] game,” McHugh explained.Columbia has lost both of its games so far this season. Last Saturday the Lions also recorded a conference loss against Brown, meaning that both teams will be looking for redemption this weekend.“I think we are coming off of the loss with the attitude that we want to win again; it’s going to be tough,” Kirk said.“We’re 1-2 and we would like to change that to a winning record,” Grealy added.As McHugh explained, the weekend of travel against two strong teams will undoubtedly prove to be a challenge for the Red; however, the prospect of getting back on track and improving the team’s standing in the Ivies should be motivation enough.“We’ve been playing better as a team and want to continue that this weekend,” she said. “I want to see the team play well … and have us come out 2-0 this weekend.”

Original Author: Rebecca Velez