This weekend, Cornell women’s lacrosse will head to New York City to compete in the Ivy League tournament. The Red is seeded fourth in the tournament, which also features national powerhouses Princeton, Penn and Dartmouth.
“Our team embraces the underdog mentality, so being seeded fourth is perfect for us,” head coach Jenny Graap said.
The Red’s seeding means it will face the number one seed, Princeton, on Friday, while Dartmouth and Penn, the second and third seeds, respectively, will play each other in the semifinals. The winners of each game will face off on Sunday for the Ivy League title.
Princeton enters the game on an eight-game winning streak. The Tigers won the Ancient Eight regular season title with a 6-1 record.
Any team the Red beats in the tournament will be a team it hasn’t yet taken down this season: Cornell suffered three of its seven losses this season — and all three of its league losses — at the hands of the other three teams in the tournament. In fact, Cornell’s second-largest loss margin of the year was dealt by Dartmouth, as the Red lost 15-8 to the Green two weekends ago. The losses to Princeton and Penn were much closer, though, with the Red losing by only three goals to Princeton and by one goal in overtime to Penn.
Cornell and Princeton last met just a few days ago, on Cornell’s Senior Day at Schoellkopf Field. The Tigers got out to an insurmountable first-half lead in the playoff preview, and Cornell’s late comeback fell short in an 18-15 decision.
Despite its losing record against this weekend’s opponents, the Red still aspires to win the championship. Now that it’s in the Ancient Eight semifinals, Cornell is two upset wins from earning an NCAA Tournament bid.
“Winning the Ivy tournament has been a goal for our team this whole season,” junior captain Caroline Allen said. “We want to keep playing games, and winning the tournament will give us the automatic qualifier for the NCAA tournament.”
Indeed, the bid would perhaps be most significant for Cornell, as it is the only team in the tournament that isn’t nationally-ranked. Princeton, Dartmouth and Penn are ranked No. 10, 12 and 14 in the nation respectively.
“We know the Ivy League is always good competition,” Allen said.
And Cornell will bring much experience to this competition, including six players honored as all-Ivy players this season. Junior captains Mary Kate Bonanni and Allen both received first-team honors; sophomore Ellie Walsh received second-team honors and junior goalkeeper Katie McGahan, classmate Taylor Lis and sophomore Grace Paletta all received All-Ivy honorable mentions.
But Graap said the team is also making sure its younger players are ready to contribute come Friday night, because “like any team this late in the season,” Cornell has suffered its “fair share of injuries.”
The tournament has only been in existence since 2010, but Cornell has plenty of recent experience taking on Princeton in the postseason.
Cornell has appeared in the tournament — which has only existed since 2010 — seven times, most recently in 2017. That year, Cornell lost to Princeton in the Ivy championship game.
Cornell hasn’t beaten Princeton since the teams met on the league’s biggest stage in 2016, when the current seniors were freshmen. The 2016 Red toppled the Tigers in the conference semifinals, 10-9 in overtime, en route to its first league title.
“How awesome it would be for them to win it again in their final season with the Big Red,” Graap said.
Cornell takes on Princeton in at 5 p.m. on Saturday at Rocco B. Commisso Soccer Stadium in New York City.