While the Red traveled almost 3,000 miles away to Corvallis, Ore. last weekend, a few players including sophomore Nick Leonard slept in their own beds, ate home-cooked meals and felt right at home — and it showed on the field for at least part of their trip.
Leonard, a Eugene, Ore. native, scored his second goal of the season — an overtime game-winner in Cornell’s 1-0 victory over Gonzaga (4-4-0) as part of the Diadora/Cliff Bar Classic on Friday night, giving the Red (1-6-0) its first win of the season. The Red followed that result up with a 5-0 loss to host Oregon State (5-4-1) yesterday afternoon.
The win is the team’s first since Oct. 18, 2003, when it defeated Yale, 1-0. Since then, the Red has not won any of its last 14 regular season games. But on Friday, things were different, and with the support from family members and friends for Oregonians Leonard and sophomores Tom and Dan Marks, soccer seemed pretty familiar.
“It was great, we played on a field that I’ve played on before,” Leonard said. “It didn’t feel like we were visiting. It felt like we were right at home and we played like we were.”
The Bulldogs did not make life easy for the Red however. From the get-go, Gonzaga’s persistent offense generated the brunt of chances, as it outshot the Red, 8-1, and forced senior goalkeeper David Mahoney into making four saves in the first half. Gonzaga kept pressing well into the second half and generated 22 shots during the whole game, including six by sophomore forward Luke Miller.
But Gonzaga was unable to get the ball in the back of the net as the Red maintained pressure throughout the entire 90 minutes and its opponents started to wear down.
“I thought we did a great job of sustaining and/or picking up our intensity of play,” Leonard said. “In this game, I think our performance was getting better as the game continued.”
The Red’s persistence paid off in the seventh minute of overtime. After a shot by Leonard was blocked by Bulldogs’ goalkeeper Sean Sosnovec, the forward was there to put in his own rebound to give the Red the win. Leonard had four of Cornell’s eight shots on the night.
“It was important and it was a good victory for us. It was important for us to get away from Ithaca and get our first win under our belts,” said head coach Bryan Scales.
Yesterday, the team faced off against host Oregon State, which defeated No. 25 St. Bonaventure, 2-1, on Friday night. The Red however, was not able to repeat Friday night’s feat, as Cornell fell a goal down in the 27th minute off a strike by Beaver forward Ryan Johnson. The hosts doubled their lead with two seconds left in the first half, when an OSU player was fouled in the penalty box. Beaver midfielder Carlos Cornejo converted from the spot to extend OSU’s lead to two. After OSU scored a third goal from a shot by Beaver forward Robbie Findley, things got even worse for the Red in the 59th minute, when junior midfielder Andrew George received a red card.
“It was an uphill battle from there,” Scales said.
The Beavers added two goals later in the game as OSU garnered 21 shots and forced Mahoney to six saves. The Red only had two shots during the entire 90 minutes, but Scales expected OSU — which has defeated top-25 teams in its previous two games and possesses one of the toughest schedules in the nation — to be a difficult side to face.
“Give credit to Oregon State for really putting on the pressure,” Scales said. “When you play teams like this, it makes you better and it forces you to play fast and you don’t get away with making mistakes.”
Although the Red has only won one game this season, this Saturday evening could be a prime opportunity for the squad to turn a new leaf as it hosts Penn at Berman Field in both teams’ Ivy League opener. Scales, who was heartened by support from local Cornell alums and fans during this past weekend, said that his team will take lessons learned in Oregon and work on them for its next match.
“It’s been a good weekend for us and now we have a week to get ready for the real deal on Saturday night,” Scales said.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor