Throughout the 2017 campaign, Cornell women’s lacrosse was even more impressive than the 13-6 team that preceded it. At times, the women were untouchable, notching eight straight wins en route to an Ivy League regular season title.
But as the season progressed, there was one recurring thorn in the side of Cornell: Princeton.
In the second round of the NCAA tournament, the top-five ranked Tigers proved too much for the Red to handle, as the host-Princeton took an 11-9 victory over Cornell for a spot in the quarterfinals. For the third time this season, Princeton came out on top, and for the second season in a row, Cornell fell just short of advancing past the second round.
Much like the two prior meetings between the two Ivy powerhouses, the Tigers held the Red nearly silent in the first half. Cornell mustered three goals in the first 30 minutes, which featured a nearly-20 minute drought.
The second half was a completely different story. Cornell held its own, going on two separate scoring runs, the latter of which tied the game up at nine.
“For the most part I think it was a super inspired effort and a strong second half for the Big Red,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86
Until that point, Cornell kept creeping towards knotting the game up, but Princeton would always respond to maintain its lead.
But what followed the eventual equalizer from junior midfielder Ida Farinholt was both a mixture of bad luck for the Red and strong Princeton play. The Tigers scored two straight to reestablish a lead, then impending lightning in the Princeton area forced a 30 minute break in action.
“We wanted to get a good offensive look going,” Graap said of her message into the lightning break. “We wanted to get one early and then come back to the draw again.”
Once play resumed with just over two minutes to play, the hole for Cornell was too steep to climb out of, and Princeton escaped with the victory.
The situation was much like the regular season meeting between the two, only with the roles reversed. In that match, the Tigers were down two in the last few minutes, and evened the game up with three ticks left on the clock. Princeton eventually won in double overtime.
Graap looked to that moment to prove to her team a comeback was not impossible.
“We talked about how when we played Princeton in the regular season, they were able to overcome a two goal deficit and tie it up and take it into overtime and beat us,” she said. “We were thinking we had plenty of time to mount that comeback. We had some players that were really hot today with their shots.”
While the loss ends the 2017 season, it also brings about the end to several collegiate careers. Cornell sends off seven seniors, almost all of whom were integral members of the nightly lineup. Attackers Amie Dickson, Catherine Ellis, Meredith Baker, midfielder Kristy Gilbert, defenders Catie Smith, Christie Powell and goalie Renee Poullout will all be lost to graduation.
The accolades within that group are limitless. All-American, All-Ivy and position player of the year are just a sample of the accomplishments shared among the seven soon-to-be-graduates.
“I am enormously proud of the class of 2017, they were a fun group to coach all year,” Graap said. “They leave an incredible legacy with Cornell lacrosse, really with their effort, their competitive spirit [and] their passion.”
What keeps Graap optimistic is the amount of young support that surrounded the graduating talent. To her, that ensures the team will pick up where it left off at the beginning of next season.
“[I’m] excited that we had a good number of juniors, sophomores in the mix this year … having that chance to spend a good amount of time with the seniors and learn from them,” Graap said. “That’s really been the tradition of our program — taking care of each other and passing on that wisdom and experience. We lose a tremendous amount with this particular class, but I think the program is in great shape to continue on strongly.”