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Cornell Soccer vs. The Pros: Leadership

Leadership is a truly intangible asset on the pitch. This concept revolves around a teammate who can fight through adversity and lead their team to significant and sometimes improbable results. In professional soccer, the large majority of those leaders are attacking players. For Cornell’s game against Harvard last weekend, we look at leaders on both teams in the attacking position.

For Harvard, senior striker and leading goal scorer Margaret Purce was a menace to the Big Red throughout the entire game. Although she only had two dribbles and one long shot in the first half, Purce lit up in the second and the proceeding extra time, tallying twelve more total dribbles. She also drove forward on the run that created the best chance of the game for the Crimson and hit the crossbar with a tantalizing free kick. Purce led by example and was unlucky not to score.

For Elizabeth Crowell of Cornell, it was a rather quiet game. Restrained to four dribbles and three shots, she did not have much of an attacking impact. Crowell struggled to find space to create chances and was unable to make her normally decisive runs toward the goal. She was restrained, and didn’t convert on a few one-on-one opportunities near the end of the match.

However, leadership doesn’t just refer to performance. Crowell is an attacking midfielder by trade, but was deployed in a deeper role to help the Big Red gain a base in the midfield to stop Harvard from playing through their favorite middle route. Coach Farmer, always stoic by the sideline, did not once raise his voice about Crowell during the game, as she executed her defensive duties well.

In comparison, Purce failed to do the same. Many great attackers play with emotion, and she falls under this category. But, Harvard head coach Chris Hamblin was constantly calling her out when she didn’t press with the team or ignored an easy pass. In fact, Purce was regularly on the point of being subbed out despite having scored more than twice the goals of the entire Cornell team this season. When the ball didn’t break her way, she would throw up her hands and show no interest for the next few minutes.

Perhaps Crowell’s demeanor defines what leadership really means – doing what you need to do for the team, even if it’s not beneficial to your personal stat sheet. Based on this description, Elizabeth Crowell demonstrated excellent guidance in leading Cornell to an improbable draw.


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