The way things were going, it wasn’t likely. Now it’s official. With a tough loss to Princeton (6-2-4, 3-1-1 Ivy) on Friday, the men’s soccer team (4-4-2, 0-3-2 Ivy) was mathematically eliminated from Ivy League title contention. The double overtime defeat at Lourie-Love Field also keeps Cornell in search of its first Ivy victory.
Tigers senior forward Mike Nugent tallied a pair of goals en route to the 2-1 final, including the game-winner with 3:43 left in the second overtime period. For Princeton, it’s payback for last year’s double overtime loss to Cornell.
Despite the loss of a chance at an Ivy crown and the resulting NCAA tournament bid, the Red isn’t entirely out of the postseason picture. There’s still the chance of earning an at-large bid, which would fulfill the team’s preseason goal of reaching the NCAA bracket.
“We have six games left in the season now, and we’re well within range if we run the table, or even take five of six,” head coach Bryan Scales said.
Friday’s match was scoreless at halftime thanks to solid efforts in net by both Cornell junior Doug Allan and Princeton keeper Jason White. Allan made a total of 10 saves in the contest, while White stopped four shots. The Red defenders also chipped in with a strong effort.
“We really didn’t have a poor performance from any of the guys,” Scales recalled. “The back four played really well.”
Red senior forward Ted Papadopoulos broke the scoreless tie 13:14 into the second half when he smoked a shot into the top left corner of the cage. The play was set up by freshman forward Steve Reuter, who took a deflected shot from sophomore Ian Pilarski and passed it to Papadopoulos, the team’s leading scorer.
Papadopoulos’s goal gave Cornell its first lead since Oct. 10, when the Red defeated Penn State (9-3-1, 4-1-1 Big Ten), 3-1.
The lead didn’t last long enough for Cornell, though, as Nugent lined a shot past Allan to even the score with 18 minutes left in regulation. Freshman Adrian Melville notched the assist on the goal.
Both teams had chances to take the lead in the waning minutes of the match, but a few stellar saves and bad bounces kept the score knotted at 1-1. Allan made a diving stop, and less than half a minute later, Red sophomore Doug Charton’s shot from 30 yards out hit the post.
Cornell took control of the game in the first overtime, racking up five shots to the Tigers’ one, on which Allan made a nice save on a chance by Princeton sophomore Marty Shaw. Senior back Nick Haigh nearly gave the Red its first Ivy win, but two of his attempted headers missed the net.
In the second overtime, Nugent took a lead pass from midfield which lured Allan out of his goal. Nugent poked the ball around the Cornell netminder and into the net to end the match. Nugent’s winner was his ninth goal of the season. He leads his team in goals and points, with 21. He fired nine shots in the game, pacing Princeton, which outshot the Red 19-17.
“We deserved to win that game,” Scales declared. “Unfortunately, the results don’t always go to the team that deserves it.”
With the win, the Tigers extended their unbeaten streak to five games. It now stands at six after a 1-1 tie with Indiana (10-3-1, 6-0-0 Big Ten) yesterday.
The Red will visit West Point tomorrow to take on Army (3-9-2, 0-4-1 Patriot), which is in the midst of an eight match winless slide. Cornell will be traveling to Dartmouth (5-6-0, 1-3-0 Ivy) on Saturday in hopes of its first league victory.
Archived article by Alex Fineman