No strangers to hard work, Cornell women’s lacrosse players push through grueling workouts by motivating each other with the phrase “three of anything.”
Three more reps? Three more pull-ups? Three more sprints?
No problem for the squad that has earned consecutive regular season Ivy championships and second round NCAA tournament berths. Just as they take each rep as it comes during workouts, the team looks to take each season as it comes to secure Cornell’s spot on the national stage yet again.
Led by head coach Jenny Graap ’86, No. 17 Cornell comes into the season with high aspirations and the will to achieve them.
Despite having graduated a strong senior class last year, Graap said the Red remains in capable hands as players rise to the occasion to fill the role of their predecessors.
“Cornell’s Class of 2017 was a terrific group, and they left a strong legacy,” Graap said. “Though we graduated seven in May, we had seven juniors right behind them learning the ropes. Our current senior class has really stepped up their leadership to make for a smooth transition.”
At the helm of that strong leadership effort are three captains: senior midfielders Ida Farinholt and Taylor Reed and junior attacker Sarah Phillips.
“It’s up to the people who [last year’s seniors] have mentored to step up and take those [leadership] roles on and not just be the interior role players,” Phillips said.
The Red retains its second-leading scorer from 2017 in Phillips, three of its top five players for draw controls — Reed, Farinholt and junior defender Hannah O’Reilly — and three of its top five players for ground balls in Reed, O’Reilly and senior midfielder Joey Coffy.
Additionally, Cornell welcomes a strong freshman class to the team this year.
“[The freshmen] have already been thrown in with us,” Farinholt said. “And a lot of them have taken roles and started early and done well with it, which has helped us a lot to fill the gaps from last year.”
Reed said the rookies will be primed to contribute on the field right away.
“One of things we’ve tried to do this year is to take down the hierarchy, because the freshmen will be out on the field contributing the same just as a senior will,” Reed said. “We’ve changed a lot of our team dynamics to create that equality that we want to see on the field.”
Coming off two successful seasons, the Red is neither intimidated by the shoes it has to fill nor is it content to rest on its laurels — it is hungry for a chance at redemption.
“The majority of the games we lost [last season] were really close,” Farinholt said. “So we know we can go really far and do really well.”
“We don’t want to use [the past two years’ success] as a benchmark,” Phillips said. “We want to go past that. A national championship is something we should be talking about. [The coaching staff] is coaching us and teaching us everyday to be national champions and we should be practicing like that everyday.”
A guiding tenet for the team in its quest for success this year is to “come to compete.”
“Anything we do — in the weight room, on the field, in practice — we strive to come to compete,” Reed said. “If we’re competing with each other — competing with ourselves to get better — then that’s what will get us to where we need to be.”
The Red will have its first chance to “come to compete” against Villanova at 1 p.m. Saturday at Schoellkopf Field, as it looks to achieve its toughest “three of anything” test.
“We believe our squad has tremendous speed and athleticism,” Graap said. “We hope to bring discipline and competitiveness to every aspect of our 2018 season.”