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Hope for the Fall

Every year, as the snow covers the ground in Ithaca, NY, the soccer team begins to train. With weights and aerobic exercise, the women’s varsity soccer team prepares for a pre-season before a pre-season, matches in the spring which help the coach see who has put in the work during the winter.

The last season for women’s soccer was a season of unfulfilled potential. With a new coach at the helm and a strong recruiting class, the Big Red was in a position to have a good season. However, after a decent string of results in the non-conference games, Cornell ended up with zero wins, five losses, and two scoreless draws in conference play. Most concerning for Cornell was the team’s lack of scoring, only posting one goal in conference play.

However, there is a lot of good to build on. In the two draws, while the team did not score, it kept the opponent out for 110 minutes during both games. What’s more, the team only conceded more than two goals once in conference play, and held the opponent to one goal in two of its five losses.

The star of that defense, goalkeeper Meghan Kennedy, had an impressive year. A junior from California, she made a big step forward, becoming a leader for the strong backline that Cornell can build on this year. Opponents against Cornell registered 18 shots per game, and Kennedy made 12 starts, and in those games she made 82 saves. That is close to an average of seven saves per game, which is similar to the workload of a professional goalkeeper. A save percentage of 82% is incredible, and three shutouts while facing such a barrage of shots is really impressive.

What’s more, many of the Cornell defenders will be returning next year with a year of Coach Hornibook’s system under their belt. When a new coach comes in, there is often a disconnect. Even though Coach Hornibook was an assistant coach before this year, being in the hot seat is always going to be a learning curve. The coach of the men’s varsity team came from a national championship to having a tough year with his new team. The women were strong defensively, and it can build its offense from that strength, with Coach Hornbook’s defense setup mastered.

Persevering through adversity this year will only make the women’s team stronger next year. In the fall, the team will play crucial games against big teams in Yale and Princeton at Berman Field. And, if you look at the strengths of the team this year, Berman Field will have a lot to root for once the season starts.

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