By GINA CARGAS
The women’s soccer team fell, 7-2, to Harvard at Berman Field Saturday in its second Ivy League loss of the year. While the Red (7-4-1, 1-2 Ivy) matched the Crimson (7-3-2, 3-0 Ivy) in the first half, Harvard rose to a six-goal lead in the second half before conceding any goals.
The Crimson netted its first goal in the 41st minute and the floodgates opened after halftime. After scoring two goals in the first five minutes of the second half, Harvard soared easily to 6-0 before freshman forward Meera Marhoefer headed in her classmate Dempsey Banks’ cross. In the 87th minute, sophomore forward Caroline Growney converted senior captain Rachel Nichols’ through-ball for the Red’s second goal.
According to Banks, the Red’s play did not justify a five-goal defeat.
“We had a solid first half and for most of it we were dominating,” she said. “They had a couple good runs and passes, but we had just as many shots as they did.”
The Red also tested a new formation with several players unaccustomed to defense on the back-line. As a result, the defensive line was less cohesive, Banks said.
“We weren’t used to playing together in the back,” she said. “I think that on top of already being down 1-0, they were coming at us really hard with high pressure. We left a lot of marks open in the back, and we let them turn the corner on us.”
The Red’s offense, however, had some things to be proud of, said Growney.
“It was really disappointing, but we had some good attacking opportunities,” she said. “There were portions where we possessed the ball and it wasn’t like they completely dominated the play.”
“We got a lot of air balls,” Banks added. “And we did manage to get two goals, which isn’t terrible.”
Banks currently leads the team with six assists this season.
With four games remaining in Ivy League play, the Red is focused on the future, Banks said. In the coming weeks, Cornell will face Yale, Brown and defending champion Princeton before closing out the season against Dartmouth.
“Since we’ve had a couple of off weekends in a row, we are really focused on trying to change that,” Banks said. “By Saturday we should have had enough time to rethink our mentality and refocus.”
Cornell will play its fourth Ivy League game against Yale in New Haven on Saturday. The Red last beat Yale in 2010, losing in overtime in 2011 and falling, 1-0, last season.
This season, the Bulldogs (6-5, 1-2 Ivy) beat Princeton in overtime in their Ivy opener before losing to both Harvard and Dartmouth.
According to Growney, this week’s practice will be crucial to the Red’s progress.
“Coach Farmer really stressed that we need to move on from Harvard,” she said. “Yale is a must-win for us this weekend and we need to focus all our efforts on learning from Harvard but still trying to forget that disappointment.”
According to Banks, overcoming the disappointment of the Harvard match will pose a significant challenge for the team going into the Yale game.
“It was obviously really disappointing, and we were not prepared to lose that badly at all this season,” she said. “We have some wins under our belts, and we need to remember that and make sure we still have confidence going into this game.”
The Red aims to up its offensive pressure against Yale, Growney said.
“If we can get our attack going early, that will be huge for us,” she said. “We have a lot of speed up top and a number of dangerous players.”
Cornell also hopes to focus on maintaining possession, a task that will become more difficult on Yale’s turf field, Growney added.
According to Banks, the team’s mindset will be key this weekend.
“We’ll be practicing really hard and making sure we’re going 100 percent in practice,” she said. “We need to make sure the 11 who will start at Yale know that we need to play our best, and we can’t have a repeat of what happened.”