Coming off consecutive shutouts against Harvard and Yale, Cornell women’s soccer took to the field in Ithaca for the final time this season on Saturday. Facing off against first place Brown (9-3, 4-0), the Red (3-8-2, 1-3) brought the energy on its senior day.
Cornell opened up the match by allowing injured fifth year captain Maddie Hoitink to take her last touch on Berman Field, sending the ball out of bounds before jogging off the field to a standing ovation. It was an emotional moment for Hoitink, who has been a staple of the Red’s defense since her freshman year, when she led all Red freshmen with 813 minutes played and established herself as a strong central defender.
The first half started off as a back-and-forth marathon, with the squads trading possessions and testing their endurance. The Red’s defense, anchored by senior goalkeeper Miranda Iannone, held strong, limiting Brown to only one shot on goal for the first 15 minutes of the match.
In the 17th minute, however, after a corner kick was bounced out to an unguarded Brown offender, she lobbed an arching cross in toward the far post, where her teammate was waiting to force the ball into the net with her body, giving the Bears a 1-0 lead.
After the goal, Brown began to settle in, controlling the pace and attacking deep into Red territory. As the Bears began stacking corner kicks and crosses, the Red grew exhausted, unable to beat out Brown defenders in the few offensive chances to be had.
Suddenly, with 15 minutes remaining in the first half, key plays from freshman midfielder Cecily Pokigo, senior defender Mofoluke Obiri and junior forward Ashley Durik fueled an offensive explosion from the Red. The barrage, however, fizzled out after about 10 minutes when the Bears regained control of the ball until the end of the first half.
It took Brown only 5 minutes into the second half to add another score following a missile sent from outside the box and into the top left corner of the net, just beyond Iannone’s reach. The goal proved to be the game changer. A mere two minutes later, the Bears tacked on a third goal, giving the Ivy League leaders a commanding 3-0 lead.
Despite the two second half goals, Iannone was happy with her team’s ability to stay in the game and refuse to roll over.
“It’s definitely emotional and we aren’t happy with the result, but I’m really proud of how we played in the second half,” Iannone said.
That was all the Bears would need to take home a win. Despite being unable to achieve an upset, the Red was able to celebrate its seniors in front of a sizable crowd of friends and family.
Iannone is optimistic about the future of the women’s soccer program.
“We always show up. Opposing coaches are always shocked, so if we can continue to show up, our future will be bright,” she said.
Cornell will finish the season with two away games against Princeton and Dartmouth.