This past Saturday, women’s lacrosse celebrated Senior Day, a win against Dartmouth (3-12, 1-6 Ivy) and clinching a spot in the Ivy League Tournament.
“There was a lot of pressure riding on this game, however we had a great week of practice and our coaches did everything they could to prepare us for Dartmouth,” said junior attacker Sophie Alois.
The Red (8-7, 4-3 Ivy) came out victorious after a hard-fought game, winning, 16-13. After scoring the first goal, shot by senior midfielder Genevieve DeWinter and assisted by Alois, Cornell never trailed.
“Going into the game, we felt confident knowing Dartmouth was not going to throw something at us that we were not already prepared for,” Alois said. “Because we were so prepared we focused on controlling what we could control –– our energy, our hustle –– and we were able to play loose, confident and aggressive.”
The first quarter sparked a strong start for the Red, coming out with six goals. As Dartmouth fought to keep up, Cornell was in it to win. DeWinter scored the first goal during the first two minutes of the game. Within this quarter, DeWinter and Alois found the back of the net twice. Freshman midfielder Alexa Donahoe also got her name in the stat sheet with a goal.
Senior midfielder Amanda Cramer entered the second quarter fired up, scoring her second of the day in the first 40 seconds. However, the Big Green responded with three consecutive goals to close the gap. At this point, the Red was only leading by one.
After a few minutes of back and forth offense, Cramer, assisted by senior midfielder Shannon Brazier and freshman attacker Josie Vogel closed off the quarter with two goals, the last one with only 22 seconds left. The Red entered halftime with a three-point lead, 10-7.
“During halftime our coaches told us we needed to finish the game,” Alois said. “It wasn’t going to be good enough to play this Dartmouth team hard for only a quarter or just the first half. We needed to finish strong and bring the same energy that we had in the first half if we wanted to win the game.”
Coming out of the locker room, junior attacker Katie Castiello and junior midfielder Sophie Ward continued the Red’s attack, both finding the back of the net, extending Cornell’s streak to four unanswered goals.
“Throughout the season, sometimes we have come out flat after the half because we got too ahead of ourselves,” Alois said. “Our coaches reminded us that coming out of halftime it was a 0-0 game, and we needed to play hard for a full 30 minutes, not just one quarter, to win this game.”
The third quarter was a back-and-forth contest, with Dartmouth responding with two goals of its own before Cornell fired back with two more. Castiello closed off the quarter with one more goal. The Red had a comfortable lead going into the final period, 15-10.
The fourth quarter was a slow roll for the Red as it only scored once, shot by Cramer, and the Big Green was able to scrounge up three more points to close the gap to three. Even with a low-scoring final 15 minutes, the Red still left its last home game with a win, 16-13.
This win means more than just a place in the Ivy League Tournament, but as Alois explains, it is a win for the seniors.
“As much as this game was important for Ivy League play, Saturday was also our senior day,” Alois said. “Coach Graap told us all week that the best way to honor our seniors is with a win… I think we all understood that it was do or die –– if we lost our season was over, and if we won, we got to play again next weekend and we got to do what Coach Graap said from the beginning –– honor our seniors with a win.”
The Red has 10 senior players graduating this year –– midfielder Natalie Hughes, defender Ciara Frawley, defender Ashleigh Gundy, DeWinter, attacker Jen Rogers, Cramer, Brazier, defender Karina Schulze, attacker Gillis Freschette –– as well as two graduate students –– defender Reilly Fletcher and goalie Katie McGahan.
Cornell outshot Dartmouth, 32-25, fielded more ground balls, 17-13, and had fewer turnovers, 17-7. However, the Big Green won more possessions in the draw controls, 21-13, and saved more shots on goal, 8-4.
McGahan was in the goal for the full 60 minutes, saving four shots, and additionally picking up three ground balls.
Many players had a multi-score day. Castiello had two goals and four assists, Cramer secured four points and Alois and Vogel scored three times.
The Red enters the final stretch of its 2021-2022 season as it heads into the Ivy League Tournament as the No. 3 seed.
“Going into the tournament the whole team really understands what’s at stake this weekend –– our season,” Alois said. “We have really been trying to keep a competitive nature alive during practice to foster that emotional play this weekend.”
Its first game is against No. 2 Yale on Friday, May 6, at 4 p.m. The Red’s match will be immediately followed by No. 1 Princeton against No. 4 Harvard at 7 p.m. The winners of these games will face off in the final on Sunday, May 8, at noon.
“We know that any team we play this weekend we have seen before during the season, so it’s going to be about controlling what we can control and then just playing Cornell lacrosse,” Alois said.