Senior forward Kuda Wekwete slammed home the game-winning goal with less than 37 seconds left in regulation to give the Cornell men’s soccer team a 3-2 win over Harvard last Saturday at Berman Field.
Collecting the ball at midfield, Wekwete burst towards goal. Streaking down the right sideline, he brought the ball back inside and with a quick touch slipped by Harvard’s last defender. Then, with just the keeper to beat, Wekwete slotted a near-post shot just under the hands of diving Crimson goaltender, Ryan Johnson.
“He’s just playing with an aura about himself,” said Cornell assistant coach Chip Warner. “He’s full of confidence and the guys are just looking to him to be a game-breaker.”
The home win, Cornell’s first at home in over two years, brings the Red’s record to 3-4-2, 2-0-0 Ivy, while the Crimson dropped to 4-4-1, 0-2-0. The win leaves Cornell tied for first in the Ivies with Brown and Dartmouth, while Harvard’s third straight loss seriously damages its Ivy League championship aspirations.
Cornell opened the game at a fiery pace, showing no signs of an emotional letdown after last week’s dramatic, 2-1 win over Penn, as the Quakers were ranked 18th in the nation at the time.
The Red jumped out to a 1-0 lead just six minutes into the game. Senior Pape Seye launched a rocket from 40 yards out that clanged off the crossbar. Junior captain Brian Scruton was there for the rebound, but was taken down in the box by a sliding Crimson defender.
Not to be denied a second time, Seye took the penalty kick, sending it to the lower left corner of the net, while a guessing Johnson dove to the lower right.
The Red lit up the scoreboard 12 minutes later, when junior Dan Marks found sophomore Kyle Lynch on a corner kick to give Cornell a 2-0 lead.
Seeing its Ivy League hopes slipping away, Harvard raised the level of its game. Winning headers and dictating play in the middle of the field, Harvard took control of the final 15 minutes of the first half.
“A 2-0 lead in soccer is probably the worst lead you can have,” Warner said. “One team may be, not overconfident, but relaxed a little bit, while the other team has nothing to lose and it’s going to come out at you and start attacking.”
The Crimson did just that, scoring just four minutes into the second half. Dribbling along the Red’s goal line, Harvard’s Marcel Perl sent a ball across the face of the net. The ball skipped through the Cornell defense reaching a wide open Nicholas Tornaritis for an easy goal.
Around 16 minutes later, the Crimson’s Charles Altchek knotted the game at 2-2 with a header off a corner kick.The goal was Altchek’s Ivy-leading seventh of the season.
“We played kind of young tonight when were ahead with a 2-0 lead. [Harvard] made the big plays and tied it up 2-2. I thought they were better than us in the second half,” said Cornell head coach Bryan Scales. “I’m very happy that our guys just kept trying, they kept battling. At the end of the day it’s just about find a way to win and they did.”
Despite a 23-shot offensive onslaught by Harvard, Cornell’s defense made big defensive stops when it had to, including seven saves on the night from freshman goalkeeper Steve Lesser.
The win was Cornell’s first win over Harvard since a 2-1, overtime win on Oct. 7, 2000.
“That’s one of the best wins we’ve had in a while,” Scruton said. “We all poured our hearts out and finally got a good result. We knew it was coming and to finally get the result and to finish that off like we did, it’s just amazing.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer