The Cornell women’s soccer team will return to the pitch today, kicking off an action-packed weekend against Fordham and Maryland. The Red begins its season by traveling to New York, N.Y., on Friday for a 7 p.m. showdown with the Rams in the Bronx. After Friday’s match, the Red returns to Ithaca for its much-anticipated home opener against Maryland on Sunday at 11 a.m.
The Red kicks off its season taking on a Fordham team (0-2-1) that started the year off on a slide and will be looking to garner its first win of the season against a fresh Cornell squad. Sunday’s game on East Hill will be a true test for the Red, as the Terps (3-0-1) come into the match ranked No. 3 in the nation with an impressive plus-13 goal differential.
Today’s matchup with Fordham marks the first time this Cornell team has played together in an NCAA match and should be a good indicator of how far the team has improved since first coming together. With 10 new freshmen on the team it will be interesting to see how head coach Danielle LaRoche balances her starting 11.
“We have a few freshmen who will probably get a fair amount of playing time,” said senior co-captain and defender Sidra Bonner. “But I think … it’s going to be more of a team effort … seeing if, as a team, we can go out and just play collectively through an entire 90 minutes.”
The Red finished last season with a somewhat disheartening (6-8-1, 1-5-1 Ivy League) record and hopes to improve upon that record in this year’s campaign.
The Rams had a tough start to the season, falling to both Seton Hall and Rutgers and earning a tie against St. John’s. Fordham will be looking to get ahead quickly on a Cornell team that has not yet had the chance to test out its team chemistry.
“We need to press them,” Bonner said. “Hopefully we can get an early goal … but we definitely need to not take them lightly.”
With solid goaltending coming from junior keeper Rachel Suther, it will be interesting to see how Fordham stacks up against the Red defense that shined last season.
While the game against Fordham should serve as a good indicator of how the Red should perform as a team this year, the tie with Maryland is a test that the Red has spent a long time preparing for, even changing its formations in order to maximize its potential against the powerful Terps.
“We’ve switched our formation from a 4-3-3 to a 3-5-2,” said senior midfielder and co-captain Abigail Apistolas. “I think that when we play Maryland that especially will help because we’ll have two extra midfielders out wide, which will help defend and attack.”
The Terrapins are one of the NCAA’s elite teams this year, recording a 1-0 victory over No. 22 Minnesota and pushing No. 2 Stanford into double-overtime — ultimately forcing a draw, 0-0.
“I think it’s just exciting that we have such a good opponent coming to Ithaca,” Apistolas said. “It’s a great way to start the season and get some momentum going.”
There will be old faces returning this weekend, as the Red only lost one starter from last season. Still, the team has several newcomers and veterans looking to make an impact and break into the starting 11.
“I think someone who is going to do a lot for us is Alysse Godino,” Apistolas said. “She was injured last season, but she’s going to be playing in the midfield. She is going to bring something that I think we haven’t had to the midfield. She has a good shot from the outside and is … really, really creative.”
Original Author: Zach Waller