September 2, 2013

WOMEN’S SOCCER | Women’s Soccer Looks Ahead to Three Early Matchups

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The women’s soccer team will kick off its season next week with three games in five days, traveling first to Fairfield, Conn. on Friday to face Sacred Heart University (1-3). The team will welcome rival Colgate (3-1) to Berman Field on Sunday, before playing at the University of Buffalo (2-1) on Sept. 10. In its first meeting with Sacred Heart at Berman Field in 2012, the Red lost 1-2 in a close game that saw all three goals in an eight-minute span of the second half. Last September, the team fell to Colgate 1-3 at home in their 34th meeting with Colgate since 1982. Cornell has never played the University of Buffalo.According to freshman Dempsey Banks, Sacred Heart is the Red’s primary focus heading into the matchups. “One of our main goals is to up the speed of play by passing the ball quicker and moving off our passes,” Banks said. “Sacred Heart is at an advantage. They’ve been practicing for a lot longer than we have because of the Ivy League restrictions.” Under Ivy League rules, the Red was not allowed to begin practice before Aug. 23. SHU has already played four games this fall, beating Rhode Island and losing to Vermont, New Hampshire and Lafayette. Despite the Red’s later start, Cornell’s high intensity will be its greatest advantage, senior goalkeeper Tori Christ said.“Each practice has been a high tempo and very focused from start to finish,” she said. “We’re out there competing against each other but at the same time we’re pushing each other. We have strong team chemistry both on and off the field.”After seven players graduated in May, the Red welcomed 10 new players this year, including nine freshmen and one transfer student. These new players hail from all over the country, including students from Oregon, Hawaii, Pennsylvania, Maryland and several from New York state.According to Banks, the older players have helped the new players integrate into the existing team.“They make sure we’re on task and we know all of Coach Farmer’s rules,” Banks said. “Everything here is still really new, but the older girls make sure we’re contributing to the team.” This season is head coach Patrick Farmer’s second at the helm of the Red. Previously head coach at Ithaca College and assistant coach at the University of Wisconsin, Farmer came to Cornell in 2012, posting a 1-14-1 record during his first season. The rest of the coaching staff is also fairly green; assistant coach Dwight Hornibrook also joined the Red in 2012, while Megan Ramey came on as the primary assistant coach in 2011.“Coach Farmer has a ton of experience and a great attention to detail,” Christ said. “He’s constantly telling us to run harder and to stay competitive through every single practice. He’s big on changing the culture of the team.”After the Red’s disappointing eighth-place conference finish in 2012, having a more stable coaching staff will help the team win more games, Christ said. For the squad’s seniors, this is the first time they have worked with the same coaching staff two seasons in a row.“Last year was about transitioning between how we’d done things previously and Coach Farmer’s methods,” Christ said. “He has a very strong set of beliefs and he’s still sticking to the same things that he tried to instill in the team last year.”These three games will be the first big test for the new players, as well as an opportunity for Farmer to define his starting team. “We already have a good base of older players who have bought into the system,” Christ said. “The freshmen, and some of the upperclassmen, are competing for spots. They’re ready to step in and prove they can help make the team better.”The Red will play eight games prior to the start of Ivy League play on Sept. 27, when Columbia will visit Berman Field. According to Christ, that is when the season will really start to pick up. For now, however, the team is trying to focus on the games at hand.“We’re hoping to improve our record overall and focusing on Ivy League play,” Christ said. “But Sacred Heart is our main priority.”

Original Author: Gina Cargas