Cornell stayed true to its motto and “came to compete” as it easily defeated Villanova, 13-7, on Saturday in front of a home crowd.
The Red (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) quickly proved itself a force to be reckoned with as it dismantled the Wildcats’ defense – scoring nine goals in the first half — while holding them to only one goal.
Though Villanova (0-1, Big East) tried to mount a comeback in the second half, the Red’s prowess proved too much for the Wildcats to handle as the game ended with them trailing by six.
No. 13/18 Cornell’s commanding victory was powered by a wide variety of players — a testament to the depth and versatility of the team.
“Competition-wise, it’s going to be a lot harder for other teams to face-guard one girl and take her out of the play,” said senior captain midfielder Ida Farinholt. “It’ll also be harder for them to throw us off of our offensive game because we have so many people that we can look to to score.”
Highlights from the Red’s versatile roster included a hat trick from sophomore attacker Caroline Allen, along with two goals each from senior captain midfielder Taylor Reed, junior captain attacker Sarah Phillips, junior attacker Tomasina Leska and freshman midfielder Grace Paletta.
Farinholt and freshman attacker Olivia Jensen also each recorded two assists on the day and Paletta added one of her own.
Cornell’s victory was due equally in part to a number of outstanding defensive performances: senior midfielder Joey Coffy fielded three ground balls, while senior defender Cait Callahan and junior defender Hannah O’Reilly caused two turnovers each.
Sophomore goalkeeper Katie McGahan was also impressive in the crease — recording 18 saves in her collegiate starting debut for the Red.
“I thought [McGahan] was exceptional in the cage,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “As a sophomore making her first career start for the Big Red she was lights out; not only did she make 18 saves, but she was also spot-on with her clears and she handled pressure well outside of her crease. She had a shutout going for 29 minutes and six seconds.”
Though the Red dominated the Wildcats, it plans on sharpening up certain aspects of its game before facing No. 12/15 Penn State (1-1, 0-0 Big 10) this Saturday.
“There were a lot of good things on both sides of the ball,” Reed said. “But a lot of things we can also clean up. But, it was the first game and we’re just going to build from here and get better every game.”
Cornell will pay particular attention on improving its draw controls, considering it was outdrawn, 18-4, by the Wildcats.
“We’re really trying to simulate game situations because we lost a lot of 50-50 plays on the ground,” Farinholt said. “A lot of us are used to self-drawing, but the circle isn’t used to going long and everyone having to fight for [the ball]. We just need to bring more energy and work harder because Villanova just outworked us on the draw.”
Beyond technical skills, the Red will look to continue building chemistry on the field as it prepares for its next challenge.
“Obviously a lot of us are playing for the first time together and as a unit,” Phillips said. “So it’s about finding that chemistry, finding that dynamic and how we’re going to work together to be successful.”
Cornell will hit the road to take on the Nittany Lions (1-1) on Saturday at 3 p.m. at Penn State.