The Red rounded out its season with another loss, falling to Dartmouth on the road this past weekend. The loss was one in a long string of disappointing results for the team, which has been debilitated all season by its inability to create scoring opportunities. While nearly flawless defensively, it has lacked that critical piece — a player or two who can score goals consistently.
The game was played at Dartmouth’s Burnham field, where the Green celebrated its senior day with a home-field win, marking the final game of the season for the teams, both of which had already been eliminated from the championship pool.
Both the Green (7-10, 1-6 Ivy) and the Red (2-9-3, 0-5-2) knew that the game would determine who finished last in the Ivy League — a title which neither was eager to claim. But with the home-field advantage and the added incentive of senior day, Dartmouth managed to make it past Cornell’s powerhouse goalie — junior Meghan Kennedy — for a goal in the 23rd minute of play.
Dartmouth did not make it to the goal again, but it had already done all the damage necessary to secure the win. With neither team scoring for the remainder of the match, the Green claimed its sixth place Ivy League ranking, leaving the Red to take last place.
Despite the disappointing loss, the offensive stats of the game were a testament to the progress the Red has made throughout the season. The squad’s offensive line generated the greatest number of shots against an Ivy League opponent the team saw all season. Its tireless efforts to improve offensively were not without effect, although not quite sufficient to generate a conference victory.
“I think our team improved a lot over the course of the season in the intensity that we’ve played with,” said head coach Dwight Hornibrook. “There were no easy games for any opponent, even though the record may not show it. When we played, we played hard; we played to win every time, and the commitment level was never questioned.”
Hornibrook was assistant coach to the Red for five years before ascending to the head coaching role this season following the departure of Patrick Farmer. Hornibrook’s familiarity with the team eased the abruptness of the coaching transition for the Red’s players.
In consideration of the major changes it faced this year, the Red does not look at 2017 as a season of failure, but rather as a critical transition period. It hopes the waves of change, which temporarily harmed its record, will soon subside and lead to net-positive effects.
“I think the most positive change this season was the team discipline,” said senior midfielder Kat Weikert. “This year was definitely a building year with the transition in coaching staff, and we’ve focused a lot on the basics, such as technique and fitness. I hope that this culture will continue in the following years.”
With an increased emphasis on disciplined training methods and the addition of a few talented incoming offensive players, the Red’s 2018 season looks more promising. But with the addition of newcomers comes the loss of the Red’s most experienced players, a group of seniors who led the team through the adversities of this season and donned the red jersey for the final time this weekend.
“Stepping onto the field Saturday was a surreal feeling, knowing that it would be my last competitive soccer game ever,” said senior captain Whitney Farber. “You don’t realize how quickly the four years are going to go by until suddenly you are stepping onto the field for the last time.”
While Farber and her fellow seniors ended their careers on a somewhat disappointing note, they look forward to seeing the team continue to grow in the future, building off the positive change this season.
“To the girls returning next season, I would tell them that no matter what happens, don’t let yourself or the team get down,” Farber said. “No season will be what you expect it to be, but you have to remain optimistic, and keep working hard no matter what. [You] have the potential to be a great team, so enjoy the season, and that will play out in the results.”