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The Cornell women’s soccer team dropped its fourth game of the season this past Sunday to Binghamton, 2-0, and while the Red played did not play up to its standards in the first half, the team greatly improved its level of play as the game went on.
“The second half is a much better indicator of what we’re capable of,” said head coach Dwight Hornbook. “We defended quite well, countered them [and] had a couple of very good chances.”
One of these chances came from junior midfielder Carolyn Ruoff, whose shot attempt ricocheted off the crossbar in the 74th minute.
“I thought we adjusted to the other team’s style well as the game went on,” she said.
However, the Bearcats’ strong start proved too much to overcome in the end, especially after Cornell’s quick turnaround following a 2-1 OT win at Buffalo on Friday.
“I think our starting group on Sunday was a little bit a victim of fatigue,” Hornibrook said. “We only had one day rest going into Sunday’s game at Binghamton, [and they] hadn’t played since Thursday, [so] that extra day showed up a little bit in the game.”
Regardless, Hornibrook was pleased with the resolve he saw in his team to not let the game get out of hand as it progressed.
“We rounded from a poor start to make the game very competitive,” Hornbook said.
Moving forward, the Red plans to make use of its deep bench as effectively as possible and that depends largely on Hornibrook.
“We have a deep bench this year so I think a lot of the time bringing in fresh legs raises our level of play,” Ruoff said. “We have consistently played better in the second half so I think we need to focus on starting off well by not taking any risks at the back in the beginning of the game, and keeping possession of the ball in midfield.”
The Red will focus heavily on defense and its play in the scoring box in preparation for its first-ever game against Maine this Saturday as the final tune-up game before Ivy League play.
“Our organization on defense and our penalty area especially needs to be better so we will spend lots of time making sure that people who are harking in the penalty area are very very clear on what their jobs are,” Hornibrook said.
He added that the team will also work on possession and scoring goals, because those have been something that “plagued” the team the last two seasons.
Hornibrook emphasized that it is far more important for the team to focus on directing its attention to its own players as opposed to spending time looking at its opponents, especially since the program has never seen the Maine program.
“The process each week is very very much the same,” he said. “We have to take care of the things that we need to be better at and we don’t spend as much time trying to figure out what the opposition is going to do because they sometimes change their plans to cope with us.”
Ivy League play begins in two weeks, so figuring out how to best utilize the team’s deep bench is essential within the next couple of weeks, Hornibrook said.
“We’re going through a process … to identify the players who we feel on any given day can go out and get us off to a great start, we identify the players that we feel would be best coming off the bench,” Hornibrook said. “The objective is to win every game, the objective is to win the Ivy League, and we keep our eyes on the goal when we do whatever we do.”