April 21, 2009

Cornell Frustrates, Upends No. 10 Vanderbilt

from press release

ITHACA, N.Y. -- Sophomore Libby Johnson outscored Vanderbilt all by herself as the No. 20 Cornell women's lacrosse team upset No. 10 Vanderbilt 11-4 on Tuesday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field. The home team outscored the Commodores 6-1 after halftime and used its ball control offense and tenacious defense to frustrate the high-scoring visitors throughout. Cornell improved to 9-5, while Vanderbilt slipped to 9-5 with the defeat.

The Commodores, who entered the game averaging 15.8 goals per contest, were held 11 under their average, with the team's previous season-low being 10 goals against defending national champion and undefeated Northwestern earlier this season.

Johnson's five goals came on just six shots to lead Cornell offensively. Both Jessica Wiegand and Katie Kirk chipped in two goals apiece. Defensively, the Big Red caused 13 turnovers, including three each by Deirdre Lafferty and Tissy O'Connor. The duo was all over the field, with Lafferty adding four ground balls and O'Connor notching three ground balls and three draw controls. Junior Kristen Reese made four saves in goal, including three in the second half to keep the Commodores at bay.

Sarah Downing had three goals to lead Vanderbilt, but Katherine Denkle, Carter Foote, Ally Carey, Cara Giordano and Alex Priddy, a fivesome that entered the game with a combined 134 goals, managed just one score in the contest. By comparison, Cornell had 112 goals as a team entering the contest. Natalie Wills made seven saves in goal to keep the game from getting out of hand earlier.

Vanderbilt would score three times in the first 12:24 to take a 3-1 lead, but it was all Cornell the rest of the way. Kirk scored the first of her two goals to get the Big Red within one with 12:37 left and senior Jessica Wiegand scored the equalizer with 9:10 left to knot the game at 3-3. That led to Johnson's tear spanning the two halves. The sophomore scored five of the next six goals as part of a 10-1 Cornell run to close out the contest.

Despite playing without two of its top scoring attackers, the Big Red was able to generate plenty of offense with Johnson leading the way. She scored the final two goals of the first half, including the go-ahead and game-winning goals, then tallied three of the first four goals of the second half to lead Cornell in the runaway. The Big Red suffocated the Vanderbilt offense, allowing just 12 shots total and turning the Commodores over on the ride three times. Cornell was able to take the air out of the ball for the final 12 minutes, scoring a pair of insurance goals, including the first career score for freshman Olivia Knotts and the first assist for Shannon Tierney, who narrowly missed her own goal with a pipe earlier in the contest.

With the win, the Big Red guaranteed itself a winning season, the ninth in 12 years under head coach Jenny Graap. Cornell also improved to 5-1 at Schoellkopf Field this year.

Cornell closes out Ivy league play when it meets Harvard on Saturday, April 25 at 1 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field.

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