They may be down, but they’re certainly not out.
Although their hopes of an Ivy League championship are dimmer now that they have dropped two games in the Ivy League, members of the women’s soccer team said they are still prepared to fight for a shot at the title and a solid finish to their season. That quest continues this weekend as the Bulldogs (7-6, 2-2 Ivy) face defending Ivy League champions Columbia (6-4-4, 1-2-1) and non-league foe New Hampshire (10-5-2).
“We still want to make a statement in the Ivy League,” defender Hannah Smith ’10 said. “We have the talent, the desire and the drive to win.”
The Elis are looking to rebound in the wake of a tough loss last weekend to Penn. In its first Ancient Eight game outside the confines of Reese Stadium, the team fell to the Quakers in a 2-1 heartbreaker and dropped to .500 in the Ivy League.
Captain Mary Kuder ’08 said going into the game the Elis were expecting tough competition from the Penn squad, which is currently 4-0 in league play, marking the team’s best start in program history. The Quakers put away two early goals in the first half, and despite scoring off a penalty kick by Natalia Mann ’09 late in the second half, the Bulldogs could not find the equalizer to send the game into overtime.
Penn forward Jessica Fuccello earned Ivy League Player of the Week honors for her goal and assist in the game.
The Bulldogs will hit the road again today, but this time they face a squad that is on its way out of the spotlight. After compiling a 6-0-1 record in 2006 and nabbing the Ivy League crown, Columbia has delivered a sub-par performance in league play this year, having already dropped games to league leaders Penn and Princeton. Coming off a 1-1 tie against Dartmouth, it will be impossible for the Lions to claim the title this season.
One of the reasons for Columbia’s decline may be the absence of powerhouse forward Shannon Munoz, whose graduation left a large hole in the Lions’ roster. Munoz was named Ivy League Player of the Year after scoring eight goals and notching six assists in 2006. A quartet of players — Sophie Reiser, Chrissy Butler, Allison Leonard and Lindsey Knowles — lead the squad this year with at least four goals apiece.
Even though the Lions are a much weaker team this season, head coach Rudy Meredith said the game will be a challenge for the Elis, who have struggled at times this season to play consistently from start to finish.
“They play well at home,” he said. “One of the things that both Columbia and Penn do well is that they work hard. Our biggest concern is having Columbia outwork us.”
Less than 24 hours later, the Bulldogs will have to re-energize to face New Hampshire at home. The Wildcats currently lead the America East conference with a 6-1-1 record and have faced three Ivy League opponents already this season, although the only Ancient Eight squad they have defeated is Brown.
The Elis will also have the advantage of returning to the familiar confines of Reese Stadium, where the squad has lost only once so far this season.