With a coveted spot in the Ivy Tournament on the line, Cornell will head to Cambridge to take on Harvard this Saturday.
Cornell (7-7, 2-4 Ivy) will look to rebound from its most recent losses to keep its postseason dreams alive. A win against Harvard (5-9, 1-5) would secure a berth in the Ivy Tournament and provide it with an opportunity to earn its way to the NCAA tournament.
“The challenge for us in playing [Harvard] in our last game is in the reality of Cornell needing to win this game to advance to the Ivy Tournament — and that’s certainly one of our goals,” said head coach Jenny Graap ’86. “Our fate is still in our hands to win this game and get to the tournament in 2018.”
However, despite the Crimson’s losing record, Graap cautions against underestimating the host team.
“[Harvard’s] record is not necessarily a reflection of its ability, its talent, and how dangerous it is as a team,” Graap said. “Harvard’s offense is very impressive.”
Harvard’s offense includes Julia Glynn, who is ranked No. 1 nationally in goals per game (4.57) and No. 2 in points per game (6.43), behind only Stony Brook’s Kylie Ohlmiller (7.48) who recently broke the all-time NCAA records for career points and career assists.
In order to tame the Crimson’s prolific offense, Cornell will rely not only on the strength of the defensive unit, but also on the grit and determination of the team as a whole.
“We have to want it more than they do,” Graap said. “We frankly have to really earn this in a way that leaves no doubt that we belong in the top four teams in the conference.”
Not one to shy away from tough competition, the Red has been a team that has played some of its best lacrosse in challenging situations.
Cornell has taken on six nationally ranked teams thus far this season — holding one of those powerhouse teams, then-No. 6 Syracuse, to only 14 goals, over three goals less than its average goals per game (17.5) at the time.
The Red has also maintained its composure under pressure — winning both its matches that extended into overtime so far this season.
Especially lethal from the eight meter, Cornell is currently ranked No. 9 in the nation in free position shot percentage (.505) in part because of sophomore attacker Caroline Allen, who is one goal shy of tying the school record in free position shots in one season.
Even with the high stakes of the match, the Red will stick to the fundamentals and stay true to its motto as it “comes to compete.”
“One way to say it is that it’s added pressure; another is that it’s added excitement,” Graap said. “It’s about embracing where we are in the season and definitely our strategy as Cornell Lacrosse is bringing our best and preparing to compete — and that does not change.”
The battle for the opportunity to compete in the postseason begins this Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cambridge.