By JAMIL RAHMAN
The chances were there early on for the Cornell men’s soccer team (1-8-1, 0-1 Ivy). The Red was able to move the ball well offensively to begin the first half of its Ivy League season opener against the Penn Quakers (2-5-1, 1-0 Ivy) and earned itself three corner kicks within the first 17 minutes. Cornell also had a solid start defensively as Penn was limited to how much it saw the Red’s side of the field. But the defense was unable to hold on, and Cornell lost, 2-0.
Head coach Jaro Zawislan said he was pleased with what he saw from his team at this point of the game.
“I was very proud of how our players started the game,” he said. “We started the game right away by generating a lot of possessions, pressed very well up the field and didn’t allow the other team a lot of space or time. That resulted in a few turnovers and transition plays for us. We just needed to be a little bit sharper with our finishing.”
In one of the few chances that Penn did have on the offensive side, however, Penn’s Joe Swenson was able to convert a goal from the top of the box in the 30th minute to put the Quakers up 1-0.
“That’s the game of soccer — it comes down to a couple of few key, critical plays in the game and we need to make sure that we continue to focus on playing one play at a time, because we don’t know which play will decide the game,” Zawislan said. “That was one of very few attacking sequences that Penn had, and they put it away. It set a different tone for the rest of the game because now we have to chase for the equalizer.”
The Red wasn’t about to go down without a fight. Sophomore forward Jonathan Cullom provided the Red with its best opportunity for the equalizer in the 65th minute, but missed just wide.
“We kept pushing forward for the equalizer and we generated a few chances,” Zawislan said. “Some were quality chances, some were half chances, but we have to be sharp because that’s what’s going to happen in every Ivy League game — very rarely will you have a clear chance because everyone defends well, and when we have a chance to score we have to capitalize.”
The defense worked hard to limit the Quakers’ lead. After a Penn shot on goal was saved by freshman goalkeeper Rhys Moller, Swenson attempted to get his second goal of the night by shooting off the rebound. Freshman defender Ryan Bayne made an impressive diving stop. Nevertheless, Swenson was able to get his second goal by scoring in the 82nd minute for the final score of 2-0.
“Defensively, it was a solid effort,” Zawislan said. “At the end of the game, we took one defender off the field and put in a more attack-orientated player. We were playing lighter in the defensive side, so we were taking more risks and taking chances at the end of the game. We were trying to put ourselves in a position to tie the game, so this was a necessity for us.”
Ivy League play continues for the Red this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. when Harvard comes to Berman Field. The Red is 1-1-1 at home this season so far, and Zawislan’s emphasis on focusing on the next game is as strong as ever.
“Our focus is preparing our best for our home game against Harvard, that’s the main message,” Zawislan said.