The Cornell women’s lacrosse team captured the Ivy League Regular Season Championship on Saturday in a decisive 13-6 victory over Harvard.
Hungry from a narrow loss in its previous game against Princeton, the No.11 Red (11-4, 6-1 Ivy) led wire to wire against the Crimson (8-7, 4-3) in order to secure the title, as well as the No. 1 seed heading into the upcoming Ivy League Tournament.
“We stayed calm because we treated the game like any other game this season,” said senior attacker Catherine Ellis. “We had the same mindset all week which was to know the game plan, practice it, and then execute it on Saturday. We definitely did that and didn’t let the magnitude of the game change the way we prepared.”
The Red was able to maintain its composure and got off to an impressive start, finding the back of the net seven times in the first 10 minutes of action, while holding its opponents to just a single goal. Cornell headed into the half leading 8-3, and then went on to outscore the Crimson again in the second half to extend its winning margin to seven points and finish with a 13-6 victory.
Ellis led the team in goals with five goals, while senior midfielder Kirsty Gilbert scored a record-breaking four free-position goals. Senior attacker Amie Dickson, junior midfielder Ida Farinholt, and sophomore attackers Sarah Phillips and Tomasina Leska each added a goal of their own.
On the defensive end, senior defender Catie Smith, a nominee for the prestigious Tewaaraton Award, once again proved her athletic prowess by forcing five turnovers and fielding three ground balls. Senior goalkeeper Renee Poullott also had an outstanding game, tying a career-high record with 15 saves.
Though the Red outplayed the Crimson from all angles — maintaining the edge in shots taken, caused turnovers, draw controls, free-position shots and ground balls — there are still aspects of its game that need to be honed before heading into the Ivy League Tournament.
“Facing Harvard twice in a week is certainly a challenge,” Ellis said. “I think one thing we need to improve on for Friday is to limit turnovers in transition and in the offensive end. We had some unforced errors on Saturday and if we can clean some of that up I think it’ll be a good day for us.”
With the win, the Red secured its second-ever Ivy League Regular Season Championship and first title since 2006. Cornell’s overall record of 11-4 is among the best in program history and its conference record ties the records of the 2002 and 2006 teams, both of which competed in the NCAA tournament.
In addition to the historical win on Saturday, the game also played host to the annual Senior Day and held sentimental value as the team’s seven seniors — Dickson, Ellis, Gilbert, Poullott, Smith, attacker Meredith Baker and defender Christie Powell — were saluted with a ceremony before the match.
The victory also awarded Cornell the position of the No. 1 seed in the Ivy League Tournament, which will decide which Ancient Eight school will secure a berth to the NCAA tournament. As the top seed, the Red will host Harvard, Penn and Princeton on Friday for the semi-finals and Sunday for the finals.
Cornell will begin the Ivy League tournament play on Friday, May 5 at Schoellkopf Field in a rematch against Harvard.
“Going into the tournament our focus remains the same of getting better everyday,” Ellis said. “That’s been our theme all season and as we approach the postseason that’s not going to change. We need to take it one game at a time and not look too far ahead. If we do that I think we will execute and win a lot of games this month.”