On Saturday night, Columbia women’s soccer (5-3-1, 0-1 Ivy) will host Brown (6-2, 1-0 Ivy) for its second matchup of Ivy League play.
Recovering from the loss in Ithaca last Friday, the Lions came back and adjusted, beating LIU Brooklyn 3-0 at home. “Full credit to Cornell—they played a very good game and I don’t think we played at the capacity we expected, certainly not consistently enough,” head coach Kevin McCarthy said. But the LIU game was a different outcome for the Lions. “We might have played the best game of the year Sunday night to date. It will not be our best game of the year.”
Having frontloaded their away games, the Lions will avoid travel for their next four games and six of their final eight. “Our players are very happy to just play at home,” McCarthy said. “It’s familiar, and that certainly can help us with the quality of our play. With the brand of soccer we play, people like to see it and I know our players want to continue to draw crowds and put on a good performance.”
Getting consecutive wins has been difficult for the Lions, in part due to their playing so often on the road. “Our travel schedule calms down, and we can really put our focus on training and get in a really good rhythm,” McCarthy said.
When at Columbia Soccer Stadium, the squad has shut out its last two opponents. Chloe Cross has perhaps been Brown’s best offensive weapon, with three goals and an assist on the season. “Our whole defense system is based on defending as a unit,” McCarthy said. “We are aware of the individual strengths but need to defend as a group. There are always quality skilled kids but it’s about the team and how we defend.”
There has been a lot of jockeying in the Ivy rankings already, with Cornell getting to its best record since 2010 and Princeton losing its first Ivy game since 2011. “It’s tempting to look at those results and forecast ahead, but we need to stay disciplined to the process and improve our game. If we play to our brand of soccer, wins will follow,” McCarthy said.
The league’s new parity nevertheless opens up the slate for Columbia, particularly given its usage of veteran players like seniors Beverly Leon and Natalie Melo, who both made the honor roll for their play this past weekend.
The action kicks off this Saturday at 7 p.m. at Columbia Soccer Stadium.