The Cornell women’s lacrosse team started its season with multiple statement victories, but perhaps none were more impressive than its hard fought win against Princeton on Saturday afternoon. In an evenly matched, back-and-forth contest, the Red (7-2, 3-1 Ivy League) overcame the Tigers in overtime, 13-12. This victory vaulted Cornell into third place in the Ivy League standings, while Princeton (4-4, 2-1) dropped to fourth.
The game was a back and forth contest throughout, with a total of four lead changes. Neither team led the game by more than two goals at any point. According to senior midfielder and captain Katie Kirk, the Red’s ability to respond after losing the lead was crucial to coming out on top of this tight contest.
“Lacrosse is a game of momentums shifts, and the ability to stay composed and stay focused when you are losing is huge,” she said. “To keep your energy level up and just concentrate on what you need to do in the next moment, and not worry that you’re losing, is essential.”
This victory also give the Red a record of 2-0 in games, following a loss. According to senior attacker and captain Jessi Steinberg, learning lessons from the losses will be the key to succeeding in upcoming games.
“As terrible as it is to lose, its awesome that we can continue learning ,” she said. “And continue correcting and fine-tuning what we need to.”
Kirk added, “Being able to bounce back after a loss shows that ability to focus on what you need to do. We learned what we needed to learn and focused on the next game, instead of dwelling on a recent loss.”
The Red’s strong defense played an important role throughout the game as it helped keep the Tigers from pulling away when it had the lead, and helped the Red seal the win when it took a two-goal lead in overtime. According to Kirk, pressuring the player with the ball and being aggressive were the keys to the strong defensive effort.
“Our defense strategy was the one we generally have in every game, to put pressure out on the ball, and have everybody else support the defensive eight, so if someone did drop in we would have quick slides,” she said.
“Our defense played awesome,” Steinberg added. “Our defense does such a good job of trusting their teammates that when our defense steps out to pressure the ball, if that girl is going to get by her, there are six other girls waiting.”
According to Steinberg, this aggressiveness defined the Red’s entire approach and led the team to success.
“We weren’t playing scared,”she said. “We were putting pressure on them and forcing them to make the errors instead of sitting back and waiting for them to make the move.”
The Red’s offense also had a successful afternoon. Steinberg scored three goals, while Kirk and junior attacker Caroline Salisbury added three of their own. According to Kirk, the team’s strategy created quality offensive chances.
“We were focusing on moving the ball and changing the point of attack quickly, making the defense react and move faster, while let us score on their defense,” she said. “It was also important that we took not necessarily the first shot, but the smart shot.”
The strong play of junior goaltender Kyla Dambach was also instrumental in the victory, according to Kirk.
“She played a huge role yesterday, played a great game, and made some amazing saves,” she said.
The Red held a two goal lead with just over six minutes to go, but the Tigers came back to tie the game with a little over two minutes remaining. Cornell scored two goals in the beginning of overtime to take a two goal lead, the Tigers cut the lead to one, but the Red held on to snatch the win.
“The thing that was important was that we were confident and we trusted our teammates. We knew we deserved to win.” Steinberg said. “It’s sometimes difficult to change momentum when you just gave up a lead, but it’s easy when you as a team feel confident that you deserve to win.”
Steinberg also noted that the role of Ivy League games in advancing to the NCAA tournament made this win even more significant for Cornell.
“This game was really important because it was in the Ivy League, and being able to go to the Ivy League Tournament [by being in the top 4 of the Ivy League], is the best way to get to the NCAA tournament.”
Original Author: Ben Horowitz