April 21, 2013

W. LACROSSE | Red Secures Playoff Berth

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With a place in the Ivy League playoff tournament on the line, the Cornell women’s lacrosse team defeated Yale on Saturday in impressive fashion.  After establishing a big lead early in the game, the Red (8-5, 4-3 Ivy League) put the Bulldogs (7-6, 1-5 Ivy League) away by a score of 13-7.  Cornell is now slated as the No. 4 seed in the Ivy League Tournament and will face the No. 1 seed Penn when the tournament opens in two weeks.

“Beating Yale definitely puts us in a great position to advance in the Ivy League tournament,” said head coach Jenny Graap. “There’s no doubt that Saturday’s win helped us achieve one of the goals we set out for ourselves at the beginning of the season.”

Cornell jumped out to an early lead with a strong offensive attack mixed with quality goaltending to hold the bulldogs down. According to junior midfielder and captain Chelsea Rowe, getting off to that type of start gave the Red confidence, momentum and control over the game,

“It was good because we were playing well together, and being able to start strong sets the tone for the rest of the game,” she said. “So it was great for our confidence to get us in the groove and playing well.”

Graap agreed, citing the team’s execution in the first half as one of the reasons for the strong start.

“The coaching staff was very pleased with our energy and the competitiveness in the first half of the game,” she said. “Certainly the draw controls and our offensive execution put us in a great position to control the tempo of the game.”

Sophomore goaltender Carly Gniewek made a number of impressive saves to keep Yale from narrowing the lead, and the Red headed into halftime with a 6-1 lead. According to Graap, the Red’s quality all-around play produced the lead and ultimately the victory.

“No doubt, it was definitely a balanced effort,” she said. “Gniewek had an outstanding day, and her saves in the first half allowed us to open up the margin. The game felt great and definitely felt like a balanced team effort.”

According to Rowe, the Red improved its focus after a tough loss last week to Syracuse.

“It was definitely a balanced effort and there were mistakes, but the difference between this game and the loss to Syracuse was that we focused on doing well on the next play, and focused on playing well together,” she said.

The Red never slowed down its offensive attack, and never allowed the Bulldogs to get any closer than three goals behind. According to Graap, it was encouraging to see the Red continue to score as the game progressed.

“I think that we kept after it all the way through, and it was an excellent 60 minute effort,” she said.

The Red has two non-conference games left to play before the Ivy League tournament — the first one being at home against Binghamton on Tuesday. According to Graap, these games are important for Cornell despite not affecting its Ivy League status.

“Every game all season long is an opportunity for Cornell to improve, and I think the next two games are important for the development of our young players and our team chemistry, and they are relevant to the national standings,” she said. “They are important for keeping our NCAA tournament hopes alive.”

According to Rowe, the win over Yale has boosted the Red’s confidence and excitement as it finishes the regular season and approaches the playoffs.

“I think it’s great that we’re excited going into the next couple of games and we have confidence going forward and are ready to compete,” she said. “We realize that we went through a rough stretch, but that doesn’t mean anything and we’re still the strong team that we thought we were at the beginning of the season.  So it’s crucial that we got this big win and we’re really excited going forward.”

Though the Red was able to play 60 minutes of good lacrosse — a goal the team has set for itself throughout the season — it still has room for improvement, according to Rowe.

“We definitely have a lot to work on and every day we need to continue to push each other and make sure that we’re really focusing on the execution of every aspect of our game,” she said. “In the postseason, every game matters, so we just need to make sure that we’re better in every part of our game.”

Original Author: Ben Horowitz