Coach Missy Doherty and Penn State will travel to Ithaca, New York to begin its tough schedule, which kicks off against Cornell on Saturday afternoon.
This matchup marks the 14th historic meeting between the two squads as Penn State leads 10 games to three.
“We’re heading into the toughest stretch of the season starting up at Cornell, which is always a close game,” Doherty said. “They’re very hardworking, organized, and a scrappy team.”
Despite it being only two games into the season, certain of the team’s strengths and weaknesses have presented themselves.
While senior Reilly Masterson and junior Hayley Deagostine have led the defense and provided much needed support for freshman goalkeeper Taylor Suplee, shots on offense have been inconsistent.
“We’re definitely looking to improve our shot placement,” Suplee said. “Also, we’ve been working on our team attitude by going into every practice, every game, and every situation positive and ready to play.”
Given Cornell’s fast-pace, Doherty mentioned that the squad will also have to be more aware in the open-field and convert on more scoring opportunities.
“It’s not a matter of not having good opportunities in shooting from poor areas,” Doherty said. “It’s just a matter of getting good opportunities, getting our heads up and putting shots away.”
On the flip side, Suplee has proven herself as the most consistent goalkeeper and another key strength of the squad. Despite being behind an experienced defense that often backs her up, Suplee has provided key saves of her own.
“In that goalkeeping position, even when you are a freshman, you want to lead and it’s always a tall task to get in there right away,” Doherty said. “I think Taylor has handled that really well as she has no problem stepping into those footsteps.”
Both Suplee and the defense have limited their opponents to only 6 goals per game, ranked ninth in the nation so far. According to Doherty, the key for this defense to defeat Cornell is to continue strong one on one play.
“We’re not getting beat too bad on that first move where you have to move your entire defense to stop the opponent from scoring,” Doherty said. “I think we’ve held our 1 on 1’s pretty tough to force our opponents into making mistakes.”
Not only has the defense forced opponents to give up the ball, shot selections have often been steered anywhere but close from Suplee and the cage.
“The defense has definitely made shots easy for me,” Suplee said. “They’ve forced our opponents into having hard angled shots.”
Saturday’s game is scheduled to start at 1 p.m.