In a game marred by difficult conditions with a constant downpour of rain, an early Orange strike was canceled out by Leonard’s first of the season, before Syracuse forward Jeff Evans scored the game winning goal in the middle of the second half.
While there were many errant passes and slips throughout the match, men’s head coach Bryan Scales said that Syracuse’s ability to maintain possession proved to be the difference between the two sides.
“I thought that they took care of the ball a little bit better than we did,” Scales said. “I thought we gave the ball away a number of times and I felt that they were a little more athletic getting the ball and with the ball…Syracuse dealt with the conditions very well today.”
The Red started out as the stronger side, first in the third minute with a dangerous inswinging ball from senior defender Sean Mendy before junior midfielder Pape Seye delivered a ball off a set piece in the fifth minute to waiting teammates as a Red player put the ball wide.
Syracuse scored against the run of play in the ninth minute when a shot by Orange freshman Pete Rowley was deflected off senior goalkeeper David Mahoney’s right post before Rowley put his own rebound in the back of the net. It was Rowley’s second goal of the season.
The Orange continued their momentum in the 16th minute when several shots from right inside the penalty box were blocked by the Red before Cornell cleared.
However, the Red got back into the match with one of its more attractive moves of the night. Junior forward Kuda Wekwete drove down the right flank, finding sophomore Brian Scruton on the wing before the midfielder passed it to Seye. Seye crossed to Leonard, whose close range shot gave Orange goalkeeper Rich Scheer no chance. Scruton and Seye both notched assists on the goal.
The Red seemed refreshed after its first tally, and almost went ahead in the 28th minute with a combination between Leonard, Seye and Wekwete. But Scheer was equal to the challenge and blocked Wekwete before the Red forward was able to take a shot.
“I think in the first half, especially after we scored the goal, we were better on the ball, we were able to change the point of attack,” Scales said.
In the second half, sloppy play continued as both teams tried to find scoring opportunities. Both teams had trouble with the slick, wet field throughout the whole game, and both managed 10 shots each.
“Anytime you play on a surface as fast as that, it’s even more critical for you to take care of the ball,” Scales said. “There’s mistakes made in soccer all the time but especially with a wet field, wet ball.”
Syracuse broke the deadlock in the 60th minute. Off a free kick, the Red defense was unable to clear, as the ball fell to Evans. His shot was deflected into Mahoney’s goal, giving the striker his first score of the season.
Although the Red was a goal down and on the attack, they found it difficult to penetrate the Orange defense. Leonard had two scoring opportunities — first with a left footed shot that went wide right and another shot off a corner kick that Scheer saved in the dying minutes of the game.
While Scales singled out the strong performances of Scruton and senior defender Peter Lynch, he noted that his team seemed to lack energy — especially after Syracuse’s second goal.
“I think the game is quick and it’s fast and the conditions force you to play fast and unfortunately [last night] I thought we had a couple of guys who weren’t able to play at that speed,” Scales said. “In the second half, I thought a number of guys faded out, especially after they scored the goal, I didn’t feel as though we reacted the way we should have.”
Although the Red holds the lead in the two teams’ all-time rivalry (34-23-7), Syracuse has now won five out of its last six against Cornell.
The Red will travel to Hamilton on Saturday night to take on Colgate — playing their third game in eight days. In the teams’ last encounter during the 2003 season, the Red won 1-0 at Berman Field.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Writer