While many Cornellians spent the last week enjoying their spring breaks in sunny and serene climates, the women’s lacrosse team (8-1, 3-0 Ivy) was grinding.
The team faced off against three different opponents on the road: Brown, Binghamton and the defending national champions, Maryland. The Red managed to continue its winning streak against its first two opponents, but was unable to topple Maryland, the current top-ranked team in the nation.
The first game of the stretch, an away game against Brown (4-6, 0-3 Ivy), was one of the strongest performances of the season for the Red, that held the Bears to two goals in a 10-2 victory.
The game was especially promising for Cornell. The women went into the break hoping to refine some elements of their game that had been rough this year. The competition against Brown surely showed improvements for Cornell.
“[We saw the team] holding their attack to two goals, balanced scoring [with] seven players contributing to our ten goals, Joey Coffy’s six draw controls and four [ground balls], Catie Smith with three [caused turnovers], and Olivia Mattyasovszky scoring three goals in her home state,” said head coach Jenny Graap.
When the Red traveled to Vestal, New York to face off against the Binghamton Bearcats (4-7, 0-1 America East), the story was similar. Cornell dominated its opponents on both sides of the ball to earn a 14-5 win, cementing the 2016 campaign as the best start in program history with eight wins.
“[Against] Binghamton Catie Smith continued to shine in the defensive end coming up with multiple amazing caused turnovers,” said senior co-captain Brittany Marriott. “Amie Dickson also really stepped up in the Binghamton game coming off her back injury and it gave her the experience she needed to have her incredible four goal game she had against Maryland.”
The competition against Binghamton was truly a great all around performance for the Red, which was able to play every healthy player and had 11 different players earn at least one point in the game.
Once the Red made its final trip of the stretch, the grapes finally soured a bit, as the women’s winning streak came to an end. Cornell traveled to College Park, Maryland, to face off against the defending national champions, the Maryland Terrapins (10-0, 1-0 Big Ten).
The game was probably the most exciting of the season so far, and even with a loss, there were many highlights for the Red.
“We won the opening draw and scored first … something no other team has done this season,” Graap said. “We were also able to put up nine goals on them which only one other team has done (Syracuse scored nine in a 14-9 loss).”
Cornell was one of the only undefeated teams left in the nation leading into the game, and is now ranked 20. The Terps retain a consensus number one ranking.
Facing off against such a national powerhouse gave the Red valuable experience, showing the team the level of competition the women will face on the national stage.
“No doubt Maryland is the number one team in the country.” Graap said. “They play at a faster pace than we’ve seen all season and their skills and their execution was impressive. Our defensive unit, including our goalie took some time to adjust to Maryland’s speed and power. Their shots were super fast and accurate which allowed them to mount their lead against us in the first half.”
Brittany Marriott, co-captain of the team and one of the anchors of the Red’s defensive unit, had some difficulty containing the Terps’ offense, but was still happy with her team’s performance against the defending champions.
“There is no denying that Maryland has a very talented attack with some really impressive players,” Marriott said. “Even though they scored 17 goals on us I don’t think there was one moment when we felt like we couldn’t keep up with them.”
Although the Red left College Park with a loss, the experience was invaluable for the team.
“It was an amazing and very exciting experience to get to face the defending national champions,” said Marriott. “Our team went into that game looking to enjoy the experience and just have fun playing great lacrosse. We had nothing to lose going into that game and that mindset really helped us to not play scared and instead go in fearless and just have fun.”
The Red’s next matchup is on Saturday, when Cornell finally returns to Schoellkopf to face another Ivy League opponent, Dartmouth (5-4, 1-2 Ivy).
“Dartmouth is a very key game for us as we look forward to getting back to Ivy play,” Marriott said. “We have to make sure we take the lessons we learned in the Maryland game, work on them this week in practice, and then execute on game day.”
Although Cornell is definitely a frontrunner in the Ivy League, the women need to remain vigilant when they play the Green.
“Dartmouth pulled off a great win over Penn earlier this season so they’re dangerous,” Graap said. “We had a tough OT loss to the Big Green in Hanover last year so it will be nice to play them on Schoellkopf.”
Cornell’s women’s lacrosse team will face off against the Green at noon on Saturday.