March 7, 2012

Cornell Builds Early Lead, Holds On Over 'Gate

from press release

HAMILTON, N.Y. – The Big Red women's lacrosse team scored the first four goals of its contest at Colgate on Wednesday and never looked back, rolling to a 15-10 victory over the Raiders despite a valiant comeback attempt from the home side in the second half.

Cornell (3-0) outshot Colgate (0-5) 37-23 throughout the contest, and its 17-10 advantage on draw controls was a large part of that success. Cornell scored multiple times on the possession immediately after a goal including its second and third goals of the game. The Big Red was also helped out by an impressive 19-of-19 effort on clear attempts, never turning the ball over when trying to transition from defense to offense.

Caroline Salisbury led the way for Cornell with four goals, Sarah Hefner scored three and junior goalkeeper Courtney Gallagher earned the win in her first career start by making seven saves. Gallagher was particularly impressive in free position attempts, saving four of the Raiders' seven free position shots.

Cornell, which was receiving votes in the IWLCA Coaches' Poll this week, is now 3-0 to start a season for the first time since 2009 and has a four-game winning streak dating back to last year. The victory was the Big Red's 13th straight against Colgate.

After nearly five minutes without a score, Hefner took a free position shot, going low for the 1-0 Cornell lead that it would never relinquish. The goal was the first of the freshman's career.

The ensuing draw control was a tricky one that bounced between multiple players, but Shannon McHugh eventually picked up the ball. Open ahead of her was Salisbury, and she made good on a two-on-one breakaway by bouncing the ball off the ground and into the goal.

After another McHugh draw control, Hefner had her second goal when Olivia Knotts found her open in front of the goal. That made it three goals in 42 seconds and a 3-0 lead, showcasing the importance of the draw control.

The Big Red made its lead 4-0 less than eight minutes when Jessi Steinberg took a pass right in front from Knotts. The goal was the fifth of the year for Steinberg, who led Cornell in goals last year. Knotts would finish the contest with a team-high five points, and Steinberg had four at evening's end.

Colgate scored the next two goals to cut the Big Red's lead in half, but Amanda D'Amico made it 5-2 when she took a shot that was saved, caught the rebound off the goalie's stick in midair, and finished with her second attempt.

Salisbury increased the Cornell lead a mere 52 seconds later when she unleashed ankle-breaking moves just outside the 12-yard fan, then cut inside and beat Berglin. Twenty-three seconds after that, Katie Kirk had her first goal of the game thanks to a nice pass from Knotts.

Knotts earned her second goal of the game on a freak play with 13:36 left in the first half. Standing behind the net, Knotts tried to pass the ball in front. Berglin got her stick in the way of the pass, but the ball took an awkward bounce and went into the net.

Nearly 13 minutes went by without a Big Red goal, but then Cornell got on the board just before halftime. A long series of passes inside the offensive zone finally wound up in Steinberg's stick, and the senior captain buried her second goal of the game from right in front of Berglin.

As the second half began, Cornell kept its offense rolling. Salisbury made a nice individual play to score her third goal of the game. Cornell has now had at least one player record a hat trick in every game this season.

Colgate scored two quick goals in a 10-second span to cut the Big Red lead to 10-5, and Cornell called a timeout to regroup. The timeout seemed to work, as Hefner recorded a hat trick goal right after to bring the Big Red's lead up to six goals. Kelly Lang made it 12-6 a few minutes later after being checked hard by a Colgate stick, spinning out of the pressure and finishing past Berglin.

That's when Colgate's biggest rally of the game began. The Raiders scored the contest's next four goals and threatened to make things interesting for the Big Red late. But with the clock under six minutes and Cornell ahead 12-10, Knotts earned a free position shot and scored, putting the Big Red up by three. Three minutes later, Lauren Halpern earned her first goal when Steinberg found her wide open on the left side of an unmanned net to make it a 14-10 game.

Salisbury got her fourth goal late in the game with Colgate trying to press forward and score. The goal, Cornell's 15th, marked the most goals Cornell had scored since last year's contest against Colgate.

Cacki Helmer, leading the nation in ground balls per game this week, recorded four more ground balls on Wednesday. She added four draw controls to her day, as did McHugh.

With its season-opening three-game road trip now complete, the Big Red will open its home schedule at Schoellkopf Field on Saturday at 1 p.m. when Ivy League rival Columbia comes to town.

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