Not much had changed by the end of the men’s soccer team’s home game against Penn. Cornell had been struggling to find the back of the net, while Penn hadn’t been having any trouble. Cornell was in the midst of a two-week winless streak, while Penn had won five of its last six games.
So it was fitting that, for the fifth-straight meeting between the two Ivy rivals, the away team came away with the victory. The Quakers (6-2-0, 2-0-0 Ivy) defeated the Red (1-4-3, 0-1-1), 1-0, keeping Penn at the top of the Ivy League standings, with Cornell in its cellar. Saturday night’s loss dropped Cornell to 0-2-2 in its last four games — a span in which the Red has scored only one goal. The team now hasn’t scored in its last 206 minutes of play. Penn has now scored more goals in its last three games (six) than Cornell has all season, and the Quakers came into the game with the second-most goal scored by an Ancient Eight team (17).
“If we could just get some more shots on goal I think the goals will start coming,” said sophomore midfielder Joe Yonga. “[Penn was] a ball possession team. They possessed it well in the midfield, and worked it out wide and then played it back into the middle. … They definitely had a lot of possession and that helped them out.”
Penn substitute Andrew Ferry made his only shot of the game count, beating sophomore goalie Luca Cerretani with a low drive to the keeper’s left in the 58th minute. Derek Hobson had sent in a high cross into the center of the Red’s box, and as freshman Matt Bouraee hesitated to clear the ball, Ferry swooped in to take possession and fire home the game-winning goal.
“It was a miscommunication,” Cerretani said. “It wasn’t his fault. He hesitated to clear; I hesitated to come out. I don’t know [what happened].”
It was a costly but uncharacteristic mistake from a defense that has allowed only three goals in its last four games.
“For the most part we were able to keep the Penn players in front of us and clear the ball when we needed to,” Yonga said. “Other than that short lapse where they scored, we were pretty solid, and I think there’s a lot you can take away from that. We’ve been pretty solid in previous games as well, so we’re not complaining with our performance.”
The Quakers held a 12-10 shot margin in a match that proved to be a defensive contest, as periodic rain made the field slick. Penn had more possession in the first half, controlling play but only taking four shots to the Red’s six. Contrastingly, the Red came out rejuvenated in the second half and had much better possession and chances near goal, but was out-shot 8-4.
Junior Brian Kuritzky had the Red’s only-two shots on goal in the contest, though Cornell had nine different players take shots in the game.
“I think guys need to get used to playing the formation, playing with each other. [Freshman] J.J. [Bain] and Bouraee haven’t really played with [sophomore David] Browning and [sophomore] Dana [Flanders],” Cerretani said. “So, that’s not everything … but once the whole team gets used to playing together, it will be nice. Pretty much all the guys have been injured at some point, so we’ve really been changing it up.”
As the full-time whistle drew near, the Red pushed forward with more abandon, but could not find the target. Cornell had a string of corners denied by the Quaker defense, which impressed again in its team’s fourth shutout of the season. Flanders had the Red’s best chance to equalize in the latter stages of the game, breaking free 15 yards from net. Unfortunately, he couldn’t control the ball quickly enough, and the opposition’s defense collapsed on him, thwarting the shot attempt.
Cornell received a boost when its most tenured player, senior midfielder Brian Scruton, made his first appearance of the season after recovering from injury. But Scruton, the Red’s leading assists man last season, couldn’t conjure his old magic in his first competitive action in almost a year.
“He’s a good player and a leader on the field. He leads by example,” Cerretani said. “It’s nice to see him out there.”