As far as the numbers go, when the Cornell Big Red, loser of nine straight games, is placed side by side with Yale women’s soccer, it just doesn’t seem so big at all. Yet with their Ivy record at stake, the Bulldogs can’t let any game slip. Remember David and Goliath? Well, so do they.
This Saturday, the Elis (6-5-1, 2-1 Ivy) will take on Cornell (1-9-1, 0-3) at Berman Field in Ithaca, N.Y. as part of the Big Red’s homecoming weekend celebration. Last year, the Elis pulverized the Big Red 5-0.
Cornell, after winning its season opener against Lafayette, has suffered an epic losing streak, having yet to win against Ivy competition.
Yale head coach Rudy Meredith said it’s important to know that while the Big Red may not have an impressive record, it has not been completely annihilated. In its 11 games, Cornell has only given up an average of 1.54 goals per game and has been shut out only four times. Bucknell was the only competitor that managed to get three goals, and all other losses have been by one or two points.
“We definitely can’t take this weekend lightly,” Meredith said.
In fact, Meredith noted that Harvard head coach Erica Walsh said the Crimson, which defeated Cornell 2-0 last weekend, should have lost. Obviously, numbers are not telling us the whole story.
Although the Elis tossed aside the Crimson in a 1-0 victory at the end of September, last weekend’s loss to Dartmouth forced the team to realize its vulnerability in the Ivy League.
“We can’t afford a loss right now,” said forward Mimi Macauley ’07. “We prepare for them as we would any other team.”
The Elis have used this week in practice to gear up for an intense showing by the Big Red’s strong, agile offensive lineup, the only formidable challenge expected from the team.
“We are trying to make the practice harder and working on putting up pressure that can translate in the game,” Meredith said.
Meredith said he is confident in the strength of the Elis’ defensive lineup. Goalkeeper Susan Starr ’08 who, having played all but 15 minutes of this season, boasts a .750 save percentage and has presided over a backfield that has only allowed 1.26 goals per game.
In this past week of practice, the Bulldogs have increased their intensity, focusing on strength training and speed.
“The practices have been harder than they have been all season,” Macauley said. “We need to do everything that we can to take control our destiny.”
In the Ivy League, Yale ranks third behind Columbia (5-4-3, 2-0 Ivy) and Dartmouth (8-3-1. 3-0). A victory this weekend is necessary for the Bulldogs to stay within reach of the Ivy League title.
“It’s pretty simple: in order to do well, we just can’t lose this one,” forward Emma Whitfield ’09 said. “Our expectation is to play hard and win.”