Rebekah Jones | Sun Staff Photographer

Cornell women's soccer looks to open its Ivy season strong when the team travels to New Jersey to battle Columbia

September 20, 2016

Women’s Soccer Prepares to Open Ivy Schedule Against Columbia

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Cornell women’s soccer ended a four-game losing streak Sunday with a 1-0 win over upstate rival Binghamton. The Red aims to carry the momentum from its victory into the team’s first Ivy League match-up on Friday against Columbia. The game will be hosted by the Lions at Fairleigh Dickinson’s campus in Teaneck, N.J.

Confidence levels will be running high after the Red ended a four game winless run with a victory against Binghamton on Sept. 18, while Columbia enters the match off the back of 2-1 loss to St. Joseph’s. The match-winning goal in the Binghamton game came off the foot of Kennedy Yearby, her first for the Red, which broke a 377 minute drought without a goal for the team.

Head coach Patrick Farmer said the women will be well-prepared for the competition after their success this past weekend.

“I believe our team gained some confidence from playing an away match on fieldturf surface against a physical, organized team with a strong defense,” Farmer said.

That strong defense starts with senior goalkeeper and captain Kelsey Tierney. Last season, Tierney and her defense recorded a program record 12 shutouts, leading the nation in terms of the fewest goals conceded. Tierney earned All-Ivy League honors last season for her performances, and hopes to maintain Cornell’s strong defensive record.

“The defense and I both have a commitment to keeping the ball out of the net, Tierney said. “I hope to continue to motivate the team to perform to the best of its ability.”

The combination of experience and confidence which the Cornell women gained from their victory against Binghamton promises to set them up well for their first taste of Ivy League competition.

The Columbia women are coming off of a 1-1 draw against Seton Hall. Natalie Neshat — who scored the team’s lone goal in the 53rd minute of play — led Columbia’s charge on offense, while their defensive line was able to limit Seton Hall to a mere three shots on goal. Senior goalkeeper Allison Spencer recorded a strong performance to prevent the Pirates from pulling ahead.

Cornell lost to Seton Hall, 1-0, two weeks ago, in a game Farmer described as “a really disappointing loss.” The Cornell women were unable to finish offensively in the game, a weakness which they have lately improved upon, particularly in their match against Binghamton: freshman forward Kennedy Yearby pulled through in the 76th minute of play with her first collegiate goal, pushing Cornell ahead with the only point on the board.

“I think for Columbia we are really prioritizing cleaning up our shooting and final touches,” said sophomore midfielder Jessica Ritchie. She also noted that the Red will aim to continue to improve its performance up front on offense to match the Lions.

Farmer plans to move forward in training by “emphasizing to the team this week how we can continue to build strong scoring opportunities off quality possession play,” which he feels will be crucial in the match-up against Columbia.

Junior forward Paige DeLoach and senior midfielder Ellie Crowell will be critical in the Red’s attempt to bolster their offensive line, according to Farmer. The coach also said he is looking to midfielder Kaylee Fitzgerald to continue her high level performance. Farmer said the junior “is getting stronger with each match for us, and will do well in this type of match.”

Unlike Cornell — a team that has struggled to put together quality offensive possessions, scoring just four goals on the season — Columbia possesses a strong offensive group which the Red will have to contain in order to come out with a victory.

DeLoach also knows that with an instate rivalry comes another degree of competition, but the Red feels ready for the challenge.

“Columbia are a very physical team, and then there is also the New York rivalry,” DeLoach said. “But the team believes we are better and that we can win this time around.”

Cornell defeated Columbia at home on Berman Field last year, but has not won a game hosted by Columbia since 2004. The women are looking forward to facing off against the Lions once again this Friday.

“Columbia is known as a pretty physical and skilled team,” Ritchie said. “So we’re expecting a tough game. Add to the fact that this is the Ivy opener for both teams, we know it will be an intense, exciting game.”

This match is the second match away from home for the team, followed by a trip to Central Connecticut State on Sept. 25, before the Red return to play the Pennsylvania at home on Sept. 30.