Sophomore Kaj Hackinen directed a pass from classmate Ian Pilarski into the back of the net with 5:43 left on the clock to break a 1-1 tie and give the men’s soccer team (4-3-1, 0-2-1 Ivy) a thrilling come-from-behind victory over Oneonta State (6-6-1, 2-1-0 ASC) last night on Berman Field.
Red Dragons sophomore forward Antonio DiMuccio put the visitors on the board early. Senior Leonard Camacho fired a pass from the left, which DiMuccio put past Cornell junior goalkeeper Nate Dunlap 6:21 into the game.
Dunlap made his first career start between the pipes for the Red in place of regular junior goalie Doug Allan, who was sidelined with the flu.
Oneonta continued its year-long dominance in the first half. With DiMuccio’s goal, the Red Dragons have outscored opponents 8-0 in the opening frame.
“At halftime I told the team that we needed to bring more energy to the game,” recounted head coach Bryan Scales. “These midweek games you can’t rely on the fans to get you going. It’s the players that gotta bring the game to life.”
The Cornell offense heeded Scales’s halftime talk, turning up the pressure in the second half. The Red fired numerous shots on Oneonta sophomore keeper Jack Potter. But Potter made several show-stopping saves, including one on Red senior Ted Papadopoulos’s free kick early in the half.
Papadopoulos had another chance a few minutes later when he headed a Pilarski pass slightly right of the net.
Midway through the second half, a Red Dragon foul that drew howls of protest from the Oneonta bench set up a free kick. The Red took advantage 25:38 into the second half, knotting the score as Papadopoulos finally got a shot around the wall of defenders and past Potter. The goal made Papadopoulos the team’s leading scorer, with three goals and an assist on the season.
The Red Dragons nearly recaptured the lead soon after, when Dunlap had trouble controlling a rebound, but the Cornell defense helped him corral the loose ball.
Hackinen’s goal in the 85th minute put the Red ahead for good, as Dunlap and the back four were able to repel any further Oneonta attacks. The game-winner was the first of Hackinen’s collegiate career.
“We created a whole bunch of chances in the second half, and fortunately two of them went in for us,” said Scales. “Chances are tough to create, and when you create them, finishing them is tough. But this was a good result for us because it shows the guys that they can come back, dig themselves out of a hole and get a win.”
The game was played in bitter cold and steady rain, creating slick conditions and making ball control difficult.
“This field’s fast to begin with, and when you add water, it just makes the game even quicker,” commented Scales. “The game was at a speed where it was difficult for both teams to really get the ball moving, but in the second half I thought we did a much better job of playing quickly and getting the ball moving from guy to guy.”
The heavy pressure that Cornell kept up in the second half pushed its shot count to 16, compared to the Red Dragons’ five.
Potter stopped five shots in the game.
“I thought he made some terrific saves,” noted Scales. “We had some absolute bombs in front of his goal, and he was able to get himself in front of them.”
At the other end of the pitch, Dunlap only had to make one save en route to his first career win.
“You can’t win a game like that, when you’re down, without everybody pulling the rope,” said Scales, comparing the match to a game of tug-of-war. “Teddy was a star because he scored a goal, and Kaj got a goal, but everybody was pulling in the right direction.”
The Red improved to 4-1 at home, having permitted just three goals in those five games. Against non-league opponents, Cornell is a perfect 4-0 at Berman Field.
Ivy League foe Brown (5-6-1, 1-1-0 Ivy) will visit Ithaca on Saturday night, when the Red will be in search of its first Ivy victory. Oneonta will be in Binghamton (0-11-0, 0-3-0 ASC) on the same day for its next match.
Archived article by Alex Fineman