October 11, 2011

W. SOCCER | Apistolas Leads Late Comeback to Earn Ivy Tie

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After a tough loss to Ivy League foe Penn last weekend, 2-1, the Cornell women’s soccer team returned to the pitch on Saturday, playing a fast-paced double overtime contest against Harvard. The 110-minute affair, which took place on Berman Field, ended in a tie, 2-2.

The Red (2-9-1, 0-2-1 Ivy League) has endured a tough season thus far, but was able to bounce back to earn a well-deserved tie against Ivy League leader Harvard (7-4-1, 2-0-1).

Although the first half was heavily dominated by the Crimson, the Red managed to make it out of the period with the game knotted in a scoreless tie, as senior goalkeeper Megan Bartlett was able to stop all seven Harvard shots that came her way. Harvard net minder Bethany Kanten only had to turn away two Cornell attempts.

“[Bartlett] played unbelievably,” junior midfielder/forward Xandra Hompe said. “Harvard [had] this long throw in from this girl and every time she threw it into play, it was like having to defend a corner kick. I give a lot of credit to Megan Bartlett in goal, as well as to all of our defenders who picked up their marks and really made sure we got the ball out everytime.”

After making it through the first half unscathed, the Red was able to play the second half with a similar style of play, keeping the match scoreless until the 73rd minute, when Harvard’s Aisha Price redirected a corner kick past Bartlett.

The Red was not deterred, however, as just 16 seconds later Hompe passed the ball to senior co-captain and midfielder Abigail Apistolas, who was able to send a shot flying past Kanten and into the far side of the Harvard net, knotting the score, 1-1.

“All season there have been just very minor mistakes,” said senior forward Brook Chang. “There were mental lapses that happened in our previous games … Every game we find something else to correct.”

As can be seen from the Red’s quick response to Harvard’s score, these previous mistakes were nowhere to be seen in the team’s play on Saturday. In the 84th minute, Price was again able to help the Crimson gain the lead, sending the ball to Elizabeth Weisman, who in turn buried the ball in the corner of the net. The Red was able to hold it together mentally and continued to fight despite the limited amount of time left on the clock. With 1:45 remaining in regulation, Apistolas sent the ball flying into the Harvard box, where junior forward Maneesha Chitanvis put the ball home, sending the match into overtime. While both teams created chances and earned opportunities to finish off the game in overtime, neither could put the ball in the back of the net, ending the match in a draw, 2-2.

“Before the Harvard game we trained really hard,” Chang said. “Everything was really intense and it all came together for us.”

Chang went on to praise senior defender Ali Barger, who successfully covered Harvard forward Melanie Baskind, “one of the best strikers in the Ivy League,” throughout the contest.

“We played for a good 90 minutes,” Hompe added.  “Part of our problem is that we come out really strong in the first half … but usually let the other team score in the first five minutes [of the second half]. We did a really good job of coming from behind — once they scored we were able to tie it up, and then when they scored again we tied it up with 1:45 left in the game. We haven’t done that before.”

Original Author: Zach Waller