Big Red threat looming in the woods for Penn women's soccer
After going 1-14-1 a season ago, Cornell has established instelf as an Ivy threat under Patrick Farmer
October 3, 2013, 8:38 pm · Updated October 3, 2013, 11:30 pm·
Jing Ran | DP
If you’ve looked at an Ivy women’s soccer table the last decade, it would be easy to find Cornell at the bottom.
At 6-2-1 and 1-0 in the Ivies, Cornell is off to its best start through nine games since 2003 and arrives at Rhodes Field today eager to continue its run against Penn (4-1-3, 0-1), a team the Big Red have not beaten since 1996.
“The team I had last year … was more about changing the focus than direction. We got a good recruiting class so a lot of it this year was getting new players on the field and try to get them to have a new mindset,” Cornell head coach Patrick Farmer said. “All the freshman and the transfers we have — they’re not used to losing a bunch of games.”
A large part of that success can be attributed to the second-year head coach, who has transformed the program.
Farmer has been a head coach at the college level for over 19 years, having served stints at Ithaca, Penn State, Tennessee Tech and Syracuse and is 13th all-time win on the all-time wins list among active NCAA Division I women’s head coaches. A former professional coach for the New York Power in the Women’s United Soccer Association, he has brought a much different attitude to the Cornell program.
“[I bring] a little different competitive mindset than what they had here before, and I’m sort of used to programs doing pretty decently, so we bring the same expectations and same training environment. It’s a little firmer that what they’ve done here before, and the kids have reacted well,” Farmer said.
Farmer and his team struggled in his first season, going 1-14-1 as he tried to make structural changes, but a good attitude by the players who have bought into their new manager’s philosophy and an eager group of underclassmen looking to step up have helped speed up the process.
Some of the engines for Cornell’s growth are just out of high school. Freshmen Dempsey Banks and Elizabeth Crowell have recorded five and four assists respectively, and first-year keeper Kelsey Tierney has already recorded two clean sheets.
But the early success hasn’t affected Farmer’s outlook on the season.
“I know that the proper coaching speak is that ‘We treat each game individually,’” he said. “And those things are always true, but I tell them to make sure they understand this tournament idea. They all count in here.”
The same holds true for Penn, which is winless in its last four matches with three draws and a loss in its league season opener against perennial contender Harvard last Friday. However, things won’t be much easier for the Quakers, who will be tested by the best Cornell side in recent memory.
“We knew when they made a coaching change and brought Pat in, and he’s led some good programs,” Penn coach Darren Ambrose told the Penn Sports Network. “They’ll be organized and they’re confident … I think it’ll be a good game and I think our kids are up for it and ready to come out and play.”
It’ll be must-win territory for Penn from here on out as no team in the past five years has ever won the Ivy title with more than a single defeat. And Cornell is no longer the pushover it once was.
“I think the hardest test we will have is the one at UPenn,” Farmer said. “It’s the first Ivy game on the road, and we have a little success so maybe people won’t overlook them like they have in the past.
“This will be easily the biggest test we have this year.”