After a tough loss to Syracuse on Sunday, Cornell is gearing up to face No. 23 Rutgers for the first time since 1996. Although the Red has not fared well against the school in the past, the team does not appear to be swayed by its unfamiliarity with the nationally ranked opposition.
Cornell has faced the Scarlet Knights a total of 11 times, garnering three wins and eight losses.
Despite the tough challenge, the team as a whole is excited by the prospect of playing a top 25 team. Since the Scarlet Knights were established in 1984, they have been invited to the NCAA Tournament 10 times, most recently last year.
In addition to participating in the 2015 NCAA Tournament, Rutgers advanced to the final four of the NCAA’s Women’s College Cup. Out of over 300 teams in Division I women’s soccer, Rutgers finished third.
“I think it is a sign that our Cornell program is garnering more respect and recognition the last few years that a top 10 program will be willing to play us,” said head coach Patrick Farmer.
There is a consensus among the co-captains that this will be one of the toughest opponents the team will have ever faced.
“Our schedule has become more challenging over the past few years which is good for strengthening our program,” said co-captain Kelsey Tierney. “I like facing new teams each year and seeing how our team adjusts to different styles of play.”
Along with the Scarlet Knights comes a plethora of, “very skilled, very fit players,” said co-captain Kailey Joyce. However, she is confident in her team.
“We’ve been preparing and have a good attitude going into it, so hopefully it should be a good game,” Joyce said.
Not all of the cards are stacked against the Red.
“I think Rutgers will have enormous pressure on their backs to win this game — they are ranked, they are at home, they are a D1 scholarship program. They have everything to prove, and we have nothing to lose,” said co-captain Ellie Crowell.
Cornell needs to play consistently at a high level against a top opponent like Rutgers, a quality that Crowell, the team’s midfielder, is expected to bring to the table.
“I think Ellie Crowell plays at a consistently high level for us in the midfield and will do so again versus Rutgers,” Farmer said.
Paige DeLoach is another player who will likely have a large impact in this game and in the future, as she has scored several goals in previous matches and exhibition games, making her a “handful for Rutgers,” according to Farmer.
Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Red is ambitious and eager to succeed.
“The team has been working really hard in practice so we hope to keep moving in a positive direction and focus on one game at a time,” Tierney said.