After falling to Syracuse (8-7) on Tuesday night, the Cornell women’s lacrosse team (5-8, 3-4 Ivy League) will play its final game of the season on Sunday against No. 2 Florida (16-1).Cornell was behind for the entire game against the Orange and eventually lost, 13-9, but was able to narrow the Syracuse lead to only one goal at some points during the contest.“We didn’t start out very strong against Syracuse and went down, 6-0, in the first half,” said senior tri-captain Libby Johnson. “Then we started to figure things out and the score was 8-5 at halftime.”“The huge change for us was the draw control,” added sophomore attack Caroline Salisbury. “They dominated the draw control at the beginning of the first half, which forced us to play a lot of defense. Once we started winning some draws, we were able to get some good attack possessions and we started putting some balls away.”The game was physical, due in part to relaxed officiating, the players noted. Yet the team showed tremendous determination, closing the gap to a one-point deficit at times and continuing to fight for the entire 60 minutes.“We really came together and we fought hard,” said junior attack Olivia Knotts. “It was a very physical game, but we were able to stay strong.”Junior goalkeeper Kyla Dambach also contributed a notable performance for the Red, recording 10 saves — playing her best at pivotal moments during the game — to keep the Red in the game.Junior midfielder Katie Kirk scored two goals and Salisbury added a hat trick, but ultimately Syracuse pulled away to finish with a victory by a margin of four goals.“We were a little rushed on offense at times and could have made some better decisions, but as a team, we played with a lot of heart through a tough and physical battle,” Johnson said.“It was disappointing that we didn’t come up with the win, but the coaches were proud that we played hard and showed so much passion for the game,” Knotts added.Cornell will use the game against the Orange to prepare for its challenge on Sunday. Florida beat the top-ranked team earlier this season, and is proving that it is a force to be reckoned with. As Salisbury explains, the Red will have to bring its best game to have a chance for the victory against its highest-ranked opponent of the year.“Our whole team believes we are capable of playing with, and beating teams like Florida. I think we are all excited for one more opportunity to prove that,” she said.“We know it’s our last game and we want to leave it all on the field,” Johnson added, as one of the seniors who will be playing in her final game as a member of the Red.This year there are two seniors, Johnson and defender Cara Grealy, who have given the team four years of dedication.“They’ve given us four hard years of work and we all look up to them and respect them a lot,” Knotts said.“Cara and Libby have done so much for this program both on and off the field. Therefore, it would be awesome to finish the season out on a strong note for them,” Salisbury added.The team is pleased with its improvement over the 2011 season, especially since it has faced some of the top teams in the nation in this year’s campaign.“We have seen great improvement … in all aspects of the game, especially playing together as a team and supporting each other on the field,” Johnson said. “We feel so much stronger as a team than we did in February.”Cornell will face Florida at 12 p.m. on Sunday at Schoellkopf Field in the season finale.
Original Author: Rebecca Velez