August 29, 2011

W. SOCCER | Freshmen, New Assistants Raise the Bar

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As the women’s soccer team took to the practice field for the first time on Aug. 19, shouts of encouragement and groans of effort could be heard from well beyond the sidelines of McGovern Fields. Coming off a 6-8-1 (1-5-1 Ivy League) campaign in 2010 the Red is eager to put up an early ‘W’ in its season-opening match against Fordham on Friday in New York, N.Y.

Last season, the Red posted twice as many wins as it did losses on the road, but reversed that trend when playing with the home field advantage. Cornell shut out its opponents on six occasions in 2010; however, one of those games ended in a double overtime draw, 0-0, against Brown. The Red’s offense hopes to increase its shooting percentage after posting a mark of 13 percent last season, while maintaining good ball movement between midfield and attack. Historically, Cornell’s aggressive style has caused the team to accumulate more yellow cards and fouls than its opponents — resulting in 147 losses of possession last year.

Joining the team on defense are freshmen Courtney Macdonald from Danvers, Mass., Clara Gallagher from Freeville, N.Y. and Sydney Cetrullo from Voorhees, N.J. The Red has also recruited seven more first-year athletes including Taylor Harrison of Valencia, Calif., who can play up from defense to midfield when necessary. In all, Cornell’s roster contains nearly double the number of freshmen compared to seniors; however, senior net minders Megan Bartlett and Kelly Murphy, both 5-9, have been with the Red for four years and remain at the heart of the team. Last year, the women’s squad achieved 20 goals on 153 shot attempts, while holding opponents to just 17 goals on 218 shot attempts. Cornell goaltenders shined brightest in the early going, saving 41 first-period shots, while the competition stopped just 26 balls.

In anticipation of the 2011 season, the Red has added two experienced coaches to its staff — both of whom are new to Cornell. Megan Ramey and Danielle Plourde will support the women’s soccer team from the sideline. Ramey hails from Western Michigan, where she was an all-conference goalkeeper, and has since helped lead Texas State in San Marcos to an NCAA berth and multiple undefeated regular seasons. Ramey looks forward to working with Cornell’s defense and goaltenders to minimize goals-against and maximize save percentages for the Red.

“As a former all-conference goalkeeper, I know Megan will help our goalkeepers and defenders continue to improve their shutout record,” said head coach Danielle LaRoche. “Having worked with a championship program for many years, I know Megan has the expertise and drive to help lift us to the top of the league.”

Plourde and LaRoche have worked together in the past, when both were a part of Binghamton’s squad in 2004. Plourde’s background is that of an aggressive midfielder. LaRoche will look to replicate the success the duo had during their days with the Bearcats.

“Danielle will work closely on improving our attack,” LaRoche added.

Fordham, the Red’s first opponent, has taken its first two regular season games into double overtime. Freshman Kristina Maksuti, a high school All-American, will face off with the Red’s top scorer from 2010, junior Maneesha Chitanvis in Friday’s opener. Maksuti has scored twice for her team through the first two games of the season. Chitanvis, wearing number 14, is looking to improve upon her impressive five-goal season from a year ago.

Original Author: Rob Moore