The Cornell Men’s Soccer team (0-1-1) began its highly anticipated season with a loss to Central Connecticut State University (0-1-1). With home-field advantage and a two goal lead heading into the final 30 minutes, the Red gave up two goals to the Blue Devils and ended with a 2-2 tie.
“We lost a little bit of focus,” junior forward Jonathan Cullom said. “We started off strong with two good goals. Both of their goals were set pieces off long throws, which we definitely could have tightened up on.”
Still, given the unique position the team is in —touting a new coach after a tenuous season last year — there are definite silver linings to take away from this performance.
Take freshman striker Brady Dickens, who scored the first goal of both the regular season and his Cornell career in the CCSU game after carefully striking a batted-away free kick from the back of the box, giving the Red a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute.
“It was a lovely finish,” said head coach John Smith.
According to Smith, Dickens is bound to be a big asset for the Red, despite his young age.
“He’s not the biggest guy on the field, but he’s quite impressive,” he said. “He’s obviously a freshman playing as a striker — which is tough — but he made an impression on the game.”
Another silver lining comes from an understanding of where the Red is in the progression of their season this year—a season bound to be transformative for the program’s future. While a tie and loss may seem underwhelming or even disappointing to some, to Smith, it is the first step for the Red’s journey towards long term growth.
“A lot of what we’re doing right now is building up our identity — how we play, what we can be good at,” Smith said. “It’ll take time for guys to go out knowing their rolls. I think anytime you score two goals in a game you’re doing something right. For the first game, all-in-all, I was pretty impressed with what the group did.”
The players, too, see this result as a motivating factor for their season going forward.
“It’s all-in-all a good start,” said Cullom. “Definitely a lot to improve on, but definitely a lot to build off as well. It’s a decent result which gives us momentum to move forward to these bigger games.”
The first of these “bigger games” happened last night, when the Red took on University of Connecticut (3-1-0) on the Huskies’ home field.
The Red lost 2-0 on two second half goals but, according to Smith, a big match up like this is an opportunity for the Red to improve and continue to build their collective identity as a team; the result doesn’t matter as much.
“The game against UConn is a wonderful opportunity against what is year-by-year a wonderful team,” he said. “The priority right now is how we can get better as a team.”