Following a successful 2015 campaign, the Cornell women’s soccer team hopes to fix their mistakes from last year to have a more consistent season, and ultimately, an Ivy League title.
Last year was a big step forward for the team, which finished 9-4-4 (2-4-1 Ivy) and stayed competitive in nearly every contest. This follows a 2014 season where the team ended with a 8-9 (2-5) record.
In 2015, the Red got off to a quick start, winning eight of its first 10 and remaining undefeated until mid-October. Before a loss in the 12th game of the season, Cornell was the last unbeaten team in all of Division I soccer. The defensive minded group also shut out every opponent until the 10th game — another Division I best.
The momentum would soon run short, however, as the Red won just one of its final seven games, leaving the team with a somewhat bitter taste in its mouth going into the long offseason. Still, head coach Patrick Farmer views last season as a great success.
“Last year was a significant step forward in a number of ways,” he said. “They earned quite a bit of national recognition for a program that hasn’t had a tremendous amount of that in the past.”
Despite the bursts of successes, an overall mediocre Ivy record and some tough losses late in the year leave the fifth-year head coach hungry for further improvement.
“I think that we have to get to a level where we’re competitive in every game if we put in a good performance,” he said. “The next step for the program is to be winning the Ivy League, not just being more competitive in it.”
In the offseason, Cornell lost four seniors and added seven freshmen. Leadership is a skill that’s tough to replace, but the incoming class boasts a skillset that should keep the club competitive.
“The four seniors we lost had a tremendous impact on this program, but this is the best incoming freshman class since I’ve been here,” Farmer said. “These freshmen are extremely talented… They’re already fitting in great.”
In an attempt to replace the lost leadership, the team named seniors Kelsey Tierney, Elizabeth Crowell and Kailey Joyce team captains for this season. Tierney was in goal for every minute of last season and led the nation in goals against average for much of the year, ultimately finishing in seventh. She also earned first team all-Ivy honors alongside teammate and now fellow captain Crowell.
Crowell led Cornell in scoring last season, finishing the season with nine points. The final captain, Joyce, was a critical member of the nationally renowned Red defense and will again need to play a key part in continuing the team’s potential success.
In less than a week, the Red will kick off a particularly challenging schedule, arguably the toughest in recent history. Non-conference games against Syracuse, San Diego State, Rutgers and Seton Hall should all be tall challenges for Cornell. Although they do not count toward Ivy standings, the team’s performance in these games will serve to set the tone for the all-important second half of the schedule.
“We have to actually be winning some of those non-conference games to feel that we’ve got a shot in the Ivy League later in the year,” Farmer said. “Then we need some strong results early in league play as well.”
Time will tell how the season unfolds, but if the offseason is any sign, the team should be in good shape.
Action gets underway Sunday at 1 p.m. in Loudonville, New York.