After nearly two years, Cornell women’s soccer is back in action for the first time since fall 2019, welcoming a freshman class of eight new players and one walk-on.
In the Red’s first game of the season against Canisius College, Cornell defeated the Griffs, 2-0 with three new freshmen in the starting lineup.
Locking down the net was freshman goalkeeper Erica Fox, who started and played the full 90 minutes, an unexpected feat for her first collegiate game. Fox, a San Diego native, is one of three goalkeepers on the team, alongside junior Nicole Shulman and senior captain Miranda Iannone.
The coaching staff for the Red was one of the main reasons Fox wanted to attend Cornell, and she looks forward to improving her game for the next four years under a newly appointed goalie coach this year, Dani Britt.
“Even the shots are way more powerful than I am used to,” Fox said. “It’s an adjustment to make and I am having to train harder to get my hands ready for college level shots. [Practices] are really intense at the moment and everyone’s super focused while we’re in training, and then afterwards we get out all of the social aspects.”
Although Fox did not know any older players on the team coming into school, she played on the same club soccer team, Albion SC San Diego, with freshman Lily Ellingson for four years.
As she starts her season, Fox said she wants to impress on and off the field. Outside of athletics, she hopes to go into medicine and is studying biological sciences.
“It’s been one of my dreams for a really long time. And I take school pretty seriously, because I want to be successful when I’m older, so I’m excited to be at an institution that has strong academics,” Fox said.
Freshman midfielder Reinna Gabriel is from Menifee, California. Like Fox, Gabriel is studying biological sciences in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
Gabriel was not expecting to start in her first game, but after switching club teams three times before settling down with Slammers FC — a Costa Mesa, California-based club — in high school, she was not deterred by a new squad.
“It’s good for my development to learn how other people play, and it’s been fun to get to know how other people on this team play,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel said she hopes to put her best effort into games and practices as she adjusts to a new position this year as a holding midfielder.
The biggest adjustment, though, for Gabriel is being away from her family, so she said she’s grateful to be part of a close-knit team.
“I’m super close with the freshmen already,” Gabriel said. “It’s like eight new best friends that I have and it’s a lot of fun having school and soccer. It’s just what I’ve always been used to, but it’s definitely different.”
The third freshman starter is midfielder Peyton Nichols, who hails from New Vernon, New Jersey, and started in the first game of the season. She said she is finding the transition to the team to be smooth after playing for nine years for the club team Players Development Academy, because the teams share a similar play style.
Like Gabriel, midfield is a new position for Nichols, so she is looking forward to continuing to develop her skill set and gain comfort in the position.
“We play in a 3-6-1 formation, so gaining a comfortable relationship with the other midfielders on the team would probably be my main goal,” Nichols said.
These three ambitious freshmen have gotten off to a strong start. With the collective goal of earning an Ivy Conference Tournament victory, they are willing to put in the work to bring a title home to East Hill.