The Cornell women’s lacrosse team gave a valiant effort against No. 5 Syracuse Tuesday evening. The No. 20 Red (10-3, 4-1 Ivy) showed strong development as a cohesive unit but fell to the fierce Orange team.
“I’m super proud of the squad and how we competed tonight,” said head coach Jenny Graap. “I think it was a very physical match for sure and very fast paced. I think the takeaways for us is we can play with top teams. We need to clean up a little bit more to win at this level and I think sometimes it’s important to learn those lessons in a loss.”
The Red struggled out of the gate, letting Syracuse open up with a 0-4 lead throughout the first half. It was not until junior Kristy Gilbert put Cornell on the board, ending the 20-minute scoreless drought.
The Orange were only able to put one more point on the board before freshmen Christie Raymond secured another goal right before the end of the first half. With a 2-5 score going into the first half, the Red certainly knew adjustments had to be made to match this high-caliber team.
“They’re such an offensively talented team, and to limit them to five goals in the first half is pretty amazing frankly,” Graap said. “It was a bummer for us because we only had two on the board, but I think we were able to keep their high-powered offense pretty neutralized.”
The Red had their shining moments on offense as well. Sophomore Joey Coffy finally found her footing, scoring a quick unassisted goal just over one minute into the second half.
“I just took my opportunities as they came,” said Coffy. “A lot of our strategy coming into the game was being patient. We knew we had to outsmart this team to score goals, so that’s kind of what I did. When playing some of our other opponents, it’s easier to take some risks. But in a game like this, we knew that we would have to wait for the best opportunities and for their defense to break down so we could take our shots.”
Syracuse took a 3-8 advantage over the Red going forward into the second half. Although the game seemed out of reach for the Cornell, taking a more analytical approach to overcome the Orange’s scheme was key in the Red’s comeback effort.
“At halftime, we talked about elevating our own performance and changing a few strategic things with going back to a man-to-man ride,” said Graap. “We took the field, in the second half, with perhaps a better game plan for what we were looking to do.”
Sophomore Taylor Reed netted a free position shot with about eight minutes left on the clock. It was this pivotal moment, showing the Red the game was not over.
After the Orange scored to make it a five goal lead with five and a half minutes left, the Red started their onslaught of scoring. Junior Amie Dickson netted two remarkable goals, both assisted by junior Catherine Ellis and senior Emily Tripodi, respectively.
The most impressive goal, however, was scored in the concluding moments of the game. Joey Coffy received the ball from around center field with about 15 seconds left. Although the game was certainly Syracuse’s at this point, Coffy committed to a demanding charge towards the goal to make it a close 7-9 final score.
“It’s nice scoring two goals, but I’d prefer to win,” Coffy said. “It’s about taking opportunities as they come and sealing the deal when you have your moment.”
The Red will have to bounce back from this loss in preparation to face Harvard next game. In their meeting last year, the Crimson (7-4, 3-2 Ivy) had a close game with Cornell, barely losing, 10-9. The Red hopes to not only win again, but improve upon their previous efforts.
“We need to focus on our offense,’ Coffy said. “Our defense has anchored our team throughout the season. They’ve held our top opponents, for the most part, under ten goals. They put us in a good position to win when the other team is scoring under double-digits. However, as a team, we need to put more goals in the back of the net as an offensive unit.”
The Red will venture off to Cambridge Saturday afternoon to play the Crimson. Cornell will take these next few days to focus, gear up, and take on Harvard at all angles.
“If Princeton is knocked off by Penn Wednesday night and we win out against Harvard and Penn, then there’s still a chance for us to share the Ivy title,” Graap said. “We know what it’s riding on in our conference, and we can take some of what we learned tonight for sure. At this point in the season, everyone is going hard.”