By ANNA FASMAN
This weekend, Cornell women’s soccer will host the Big Red Shootout, a series of games to take place on campus at Charles F. Berman field. The Red will start the weekend on Friday evening with a game against Virginia Military Institute and will then face Temple University on Sunday to close out the tournament.
While the Red already has a weekend of games under its belt, posting 1-0 wins against UMass and Marist College in its openers, Temple remains undefeated with a 5-0 record and should pose a challenge to the squad. In addition, while VMI is 1-3 this season, they still have two more games worth of experience than the Red. Furthermore, Cornell is unfamiliar with VMI’s style of play, not having spent time watching video of the Keydets, which will leave the team having to adapt during the first few minutes of gameplay.
Despite these factors, the Red is heading into this weekend with confidence after it was able to shut out both opponents last weekend. Senior midfielder and forward Kerry Schubert explained that the team is hoping to take what it did well last weekend and carry it over to the upcoming games.
“What worked for us last weekend is that we played at our own pace and didn’t settle to our opponent. For this upcoming weekend, we will just need to focus on playing our game and setting a tone,” she said.
Head Coach Patrick Farmer noted that much of the team’s success last weekend — as well as any future success — comes from a strong lineup of players and the ability to substitute women when needed. He also attributed the strong gameplay to the two seniors leading the team, as well as the upperclassmen in general who set the pace for the younger players.
“The upperclassmen leadership was excellent with both captains playing full matches both days, and three juniors also leading by example,” he said. “I certainly expect that competitive spirit and leadership to be demonstrated again this weekend in our home tournament.”
Farmer also said he hopes that last week’s wins will fuel the fire for the Red’s first home game.
“I think the confidence gained by posting two shutout victories on the road against very different opponents and on drastically different field surfaces should help us move forward for our home opener and tournament this weekend,” he said.
The squad has been focusing a lot on tempo and speed of play in its practices this week, as well as group defense and confidence on the attack. Additionally, the team will hopefully have some players returning to the field after injuries sidelined them last weekend.
In addition, Farmer said he has shifted his style of coaching this season, expecting more out of his players and setting the bar higher for the squad as a whole.
“I do feel that we are coaching a bit differently this year than the first two here — more individual and group coaching and expecting the team to play at a quicker tempo in both training and matches because they are familiar now with how we do things,” he said. “I also believe that we are able to ‘train’ a bit more and ‘teach’ a bit less because we have a significant number of returning players who contributed last year.”
Schubert explained that coming into the tournament, the team’s confidence stems from a sense of familiarity and camaraderie on the field coupled with a strong preseason.
“Each year, we’ve come into preseason more and more prepared to start the season, and that was very true this year as well,” she said. “I think this year, everyone feels more comfortable playing with each other and knows what they [are] expected of on the field.”
With high hopes and a strong start to its season, the Red comes into the weekend with a good mentality and a drive for wins.
“I am looking forward to seeing how we have progressed in our quality of play through training this week,” Farmer said.