Homecoming actually produced the most disappointing home result of the year for the Red men’s soccer team (3-3-1, 0-2-1 Ivy) as it dropped a hard-fought decision to Harvard (7-2, 3-0) by a 1-0 score last Saturday night at Berman field. The loss was the first at home this year for the Red, who had outscored opponents 9-1 on the friendly confines of the East Hill in its other three home matches of the year.
Harvard entered the game unbeaten in Ivy play, while the Red was without an Ivy win, but coming off of a huge home victory over Penn State from earlier in the week.
The first half was mostly back and forth with each team struggling to string together a series of passes and not able to put pressure on either junior goalkeeper Doug Allen or his counterpart, Harvard’s Jamie Roth. The teams seemed to be struggling with the strong southern wind that seemed to wreak havoc on long passes.
The second half did not begin as quietly as the first ended however, as Harvard got off a strong shot that went just wide of Allen’s net barely 30 seconds into the frame. Cornell countered, however, and spent much of the next five minutes down in Harvard’s end where it got off several shots in the direction of the Crimson cage as well as earning several corner kicks.
One of Cornell’s best chances of the evening occurred when senior Ted Papadopoulos dropped a ball back to junior Kevin London who unleashed a wicked shot from 25 yards out. The ball screamed in on Roth, who was unable to get to it, but the netminder was saved by the post as the ball glanced the inside portion of the bar before bouncing across the box and out of harm’s way. The play brought the crowd to its feet.
Cornell certainly would have scored an elusive goal had it not been for the play of Roth. While the scoresheet lists him with only four saves, he seemed to be in the right place whenever Cornell pressed the Harvard defense.
Head coach Bryan Scales certainly felt the Red lost a number of excellent opportunities Saturday.
“We had our chances, we just couldn’t finish them off,” the coach noted after the game. “Up front we were looking for a lot of connections that weren’t there tonight.”
Harvard regained its composure and finally connected on what it had been trying to do against a tough Cornell team when Michael Peller scored off a viciously quick counterattack at the 73:27 mark to make it 1-0. As the crowd looked on in horror, Peller streaked out of the midfield unmarked and received a pinpoint cross from Mark Baun. The half-volley beat a sprawled out Allen cleanly, and a team that had seemingly been pushed to the point of extinction was suddenly in the lead.
“He scored a hell of a goal. Great goal, great serve,” Scales said.
When asked about the counter, Scales replied, “We talked about that at halftime, when we have the ball going forward that we have things sorted out in the back.”
Cornell spent the final few minutes desperately trying to break through, but despite a number of free kicks and opportunities against a Harvard team that was content to play defense it could not dissect either Roth and the Crimson back four.
Cornell will play again tomorrow night at home against Oneonta St. at 7 p.m.
Archived article by Charles Persons