Even without leading scorer Jarett Park, Syracuse (8-7-2, 3-5-1 Big East) was still able to defeat the men’s soccer team (3-6-3, 0-3-1 Ivy), 2-1 last night in a bitter cold on Berman Field. This was the Red’s third straight one-goal loss.
Park’s teammate explained that head coach Dean Foti decided to sit the sophomore, who has had a nagging injury, in order to prevent further damage in the cold weather. Last year’s Big East Rookie of the Year, Park was originally slated to be in the starting lineup.
Of the game head coach Bryan Scales stated, “We’ve had our chances, we finished one off tonight, we didn’t finish some other ones off and we gave up a couple of goals. It’s tough to put your finger on, it’s just one of those things where the belief within the team going in now has got to be that we are going to win this game.”
Despite the loss, Scales did not question his team’s play.
“I don’t think the guys played poorly,” he explained. “I think they all worked extremely hard to win the game but at the end of the day we didn’t get our goals.”
The first half was pretty evenly matched with both teams earning some good opportunities to notch the first goal.
Cornell’s first strong opportunity came 22 minutes into the half when junior Ian Pilarski had a perfect cross to the left-hand post, where freshman Andrew George ran over the ball, resulting in a goal kick.
With time winding down on the first half, Cornell once again looked like it would take the lead as the ball bobbled in front of the net, but no white jerseys were present to finish the play.
Despite the strong scoring opportunities, it was the Orangemen who got on the board first just 16 minutes into the second stanza.
Freshman Jeff Evans tallied the first score off of a deflected shot following a Syracuse corner kick. Junior Kirk Johnson and senior Guido Cristofari were awarded assists on the play.
Despite dropping the goal, the Red did not give up and almost evened the score two minutes later, when Pilarski had a strong shot on net. Then just moments later sophomore Steve Reuter also tested freshman keeper Alim Karim, but once again the Red could not convert as the ball was flicked back and forth in front of the net. Although several Cornell players had a touch of the ball, not one could muster a strong enough strike to score.
The Red’s persistence did pay off, however, as George scored his second goal of the year with twenty minutes remaining in the second half. After sophomore Scott Palguta nailed a shot into the near post, George was able to grab the rebound and send it back in to tie the score.
Cornell could only keep the score even for five minutes as freshman Robert Alexander broke the tie on a breakaway. Junior goalkeeper Nate Dunlap was left virtually helpless as Alexander sent the ball to the right-hand corner of the net. Syracuse junior Chris Aloisi and Cristofari earned assists on the tally.
Cornell was not without opportunities in the remaining 15 minutes, but in the team’s best runs at net, individual players would hold the ball for too long, playing with it just inside the box as opposed to firing shots to challenge Karim.
“It’s just a matter of trying to connect,” explained Scales. “Some guys are trying to do too much, trying to fix it on their own and that usually makes more of a mess of it. If you can pass and move and play simple soccer that usually fixes the problem, but if guys get too complicated things get murkier.”
Karim finished the game with four saves, while Dunlap saved eight shots in his first start of the season.
Of Dunlap’s play Scales said, “I think Nate did well; we’ll have a decision to make for Saturday.”
Defensively, the back four continued to be strong, and sophomore Sean Mendy has become an extremely competent marker in the back after replacing Matt Blumenstyk, who is out with a concussion.
Scales praised his markers, stating, “They’ve given their heart and soul to keeping balls out of our goal and unfortunately we haven’t been able to do it, so they take it pretty personally, but they are putting everything they can into it.”
Another change the Red made was moving Palguta up to the front line, a switch Scales says will be permanent.
“I thought Scott was pretty dangerous. I thought he did well up there. Once he learns to play as a forward, and the movements and the tactics involved, he’ll be fine.”
Cornell returns to Ivy League action on Saturday as the Red takes on Princeton at 7 p.m. on Berman Field.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss