The Cornell men’s soccer team suffered a one-goal loss to Dartmouth (7-4-5, 4-1-1 Ivy) on Saturday, after a corner kick was headed by the Big Green three minutes into the second half of play.
The matchup marked the last home game of the season for the Red (1-13-2, 0-6-0 Ivy) .
“There is always something different in the air when you have a group of guys who are taking part in the final home game of their college careers,” said head coach John Smith.
Freshman midfielder George Pedlow also talked about the special atmosphere surrounding a team that knew for the 11 seniors, it would be their last time playing on Berman field.
“[The seniors] are such an integral part of the team,” Pedlow said. “They also had a good group of fans come to see them play, and Dartmouth is a great team so we were all very up for it.”
The Red got the first shot on goal of the game when Pedlow shot in the 16th minute. The second opportunity for the Red came with freshman midfielder Ryan Watters’ kick in the 39th minute of play. On defense, Cornell held the top-ranked Ivy team to three shots on goals during the first half.
“It was a tight first half for sure, we had a similar amount of chances [as Dartmouth],” Pedlow said.
Three saves by freshman goalie Ryan Shellow kept the teams even going into the second half.
“In Dartmouth, we faced a top 20 team, and we went toe to toe with them,” Smith said. “It wasn’t a case of us sitting back and soaking up a ton of pressure, rather, it was a genuine back-and-forth contest.”
The Green was at the right place at the right time when the team headed a corner kick into the net just three minutes into the second half, giving the team a 1-0 advantage. Smith said he felt the Cornell did well rebounding from the disappointing goal.
“It isn’t a matter of fortune, but rather a matter of us improving in our execution during these moments,” said Smith. “Simply put, we have to be better in how we control what goes on in and around both penalty boxes.”
The Red attempted to return the favor a minute later when senior midfielder Jack Ferguson attempted to score the equalized, but his shot was saved. Pedlow, junior midfielder Tommy Griffin and junior center back Allen Michael Capo also took shots during the second half.
“We managed to keep the intensity after the first goal, as we genuinely believed we would get one back,” said Pedlow. “That’s the only way to react positively after a goal. Otherwise we leave ourselves open to be scored on again.”
The Red kept up its strong defense against Dartmouth and continued to create opportunities, but the corner kick was enough for the Green to secure a victory and send Cornell to its 13th loss of the year.
Despite the disappointing outcome, Pedlow said he feels the team played one of its best games of the season.
“We had good possession against a team which usually dominates possession and were at the time ranked 18th in the country, and we worked hard off and on the ball to battle for 90 minutes,” Pedlow said.
Smith agreed that the final home game was one of the best performances by the Red this year, commenting that Cornell played with balance throughout the game.
“I thought the Dartmouth game was one of our best this season,” he said. “We defended well and limited Dartmouth as far as looks on goal goes and we did a good job of creating opportunities of our own.”
Smith added that the team has been improving all season long and expects to see the same strength this coming Saturday, when the Red faces Columbia for its final game of the season.
“This is yet another game where our opponent has way more to lose than we do,” he said.
With a long offseason approaching, Pedlow said he hopes the team secures a victory against Columbia to secure the squad’s second win of the season.
“[I hope we] give everything we have so that we can head into spring with our heads held high,” he said.