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After a long road trip down to Dallas, the Cornell Men’s soccer team was unable to secure a victory to start its regular season.
Cornell (0-1-1) drew its first game of the season on Friday against University of Incarnate Word (1-1-1) in a back and forth affair that ended in a two-all tie. On Sunday, the Red faced an experienced Southern Methodist University team (3-0-0) that ultimately proved to be too much to handle in a 3-0 loss.
Despite the winless start, head coach John Smith believes the team has reason to come away from the trip optimistic.
“When you go into these games at the start of the season, particularly with short preparation periods, you always go into them with a heck of a lot of questions,” said head coach John Smith. “We came out of the weekend with some answers.”
Cornell outshot UIW 17-9 and, according to Smith, if it were not for a few missed opportunities, Cornell could have walked away with a decisive victory.
“We played ourselves into a position where at the end of the game we were asking how we missed that one and how we missed that one,” Smith said.
The Cardinals struck first to take the early 1-0 lead, but junior forward Walter Prince got things started for the Red as he scored the first goal of the season in the 33rd minute to equalize.
UIW gave itself a 2-1 lead, and it was once again up to Cornell to tie it. Sophomore forward George Pedlow answered the call for the Red, netting the ball in the 82nd minute for the final score 2-2.
The Red had chances in front of the net throughout the match, which Smith said was a result of the team’s confidence.
“There were chances that were two or three yards out and as frustrating as it is to miss them, it is exciting knowing that we’re capable of creating those chances,” Smith said.
In the second game, however, Cornell was unable to get its offense going, managing to get only one shot on goal during the entire game.
Meanwhile, the SMU offense was on full display. After heading into halftime with a 1-0 lead, SMU tacked on another two goals within the first five minutes of the second half, closing the scoring at 3-0.
“What we did in those first five minutes of the second half killed the game off for us unfortunately,” Smith said. “We are going to have to learn from that as we paid the price for a few short moments of bad decision making.”
Nevertheless, Smith stressed that the Red competed well this past weekend, generating dangerous shots and at times going forward with confidence, an encouraging sign for a very young team.
“In both games we were by far the youngest group,” Smith said. “There were moments in the game when there were eight freshmen on the field for us.”
In prior seasons, Cornell has lacked explosiveness up front. This year’s side appears to be different to Smith, and some freshmen have already stood out for their technical skill.
“As far from an attacking perspective, I thought [freshman] Tyler Bagley was confident on the ball and he seems to play with no fear,” Smith said. “He firmly believed that he deserved to be out there and he proved it in the way he plays.”
Smith noted that the entire team played well this weekend, but he hopes to see improved results moving forward.
The Red returns to Ithaca this weekend to take on Lehigh University on Friday night and then Lafayette College Sunday afternoon.