Proving that it is a force to be reckoned with at the national level, the Cornell women’s lacrosse team kept its four-game win streak alive by defeating the University of Southern California at Nickerson Field in Boston Sunday.
The 11-10 victory over the Trojans (6-2) moved the Red (5-1) up from No. 11 to No. 7 in the national polls and USC down from No. 5 to No. 10 in the Inside Lacrosse poll.
Preparation for the teams’ first-ever meeting began early for the Red as the team watched film to analyze the Trojans’ game plan and craft a winning strategy.
“[Our] attackers were focused on preparing for USC’s zone,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’97. “Specifically, our offense needed to be patient so we could create both ball movement and player movement during our possessions.”
The Red also mimicked game situations in practice in order to be well-prepared for the match.
“Since their goalkeeper is left handed, we had our freshman goalie, Katie McGahan, play left handed so our shooters would be ready,” Graap said. “[Our] defense was focused on supporting each other and staying disciplined in their execution.”
The focused practices translated well to the game as Cornell got off to a solid start, scoring first to break a four-game streak of giving up the first goal. The Red finished the first half with a 7-4 lead.
Cornell also scored the first two goals of the second half, extending its lead to five points, but USC refused to go down without a fight. The Trojans mounted a valiant comeback that included a run of four unanswered goals and tied the match ten-all with 8:30 left to play.
Demonstrating its maturity and outstanding ability to keep its composure under pressure, Cornell sealed the victory when junior midfielder Taylor Reed found the back of the net with 1:52 left in the game.
“[USC] did climb back on us during the second half but we just stayed very composed,” said senior co-captain attacker Catherine Ellis. “We had been in positions like that before so we all just looked at each other and knew we could still win the game.”
Senior goalie Renee Poullott made 10 invaluable saves during the match, denying the Trojans crucial points. She was named Ivy League defensive player of the week for her efforts in Boston.
“Poullott was our hero,” Graap said. “She made a point blank save on a wide open shot which really ignited our team.”
Not content to rest on its laurels, Cornell looks to continue building momentum and working toward its goals.
“[We are] still a work in progres,” Graap said. “We’ve got plenty to improve upon, but our foundation is solid. Every player on the bench and on the field wants to compete. We believe in pushing each other at practice and getting better every day. We are a hard-working group of athletes, and we have to stay hungry.”
The Red returns to Ancient Eight play this weekend, taking on the Yale Bulldogs (5-3) on Saturday at 1 p.m. in New Haven.