Experienced players like seniors Scott Palguta, Peter Lynch and Sean Mendy turned in solid performances, and classmate Peter Francis made a valiant effort filling in at goal for injured starter David Mahoney. However, it wasn’t enough to the stop the surging Raiders who, playing in front of a Lynah-esque home crowd, beat Cornell for the first time since 1998.
“I would say the atmosphere and Colgate were exactly what we had expected,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “They came out flying, but we matched that intensity level for a while.” The Raiders challenged the Red early, testing backup-goalkeeper Francis, who was making his first career start for Cornell. Filling in for normal starter Mahoney, who was resting an injured shoulder, Francis proved more than a worthy replacement, with six saves on the night.
“Francis stepped in and did a terrific job for us,” Scales said. “If you’re going to throw someone into an environment like we faced last night in Colgate, with a hostile crowd, you want to have a guy like Pete Francis in goal.”
However, in the 31st minute, Colgate finally broke through the Red’s defense, as a free kick from Sean O’Sullivan found the head of Reed Grimes to put the Raiders up 1-0. In the final minutes of the first half, with Cornell pressing hard for the equalizer, Colgate’s O’Sullivan received a long through-ball on a Raider’s counterattack and finished the resulting breakaway to give the Raiders a 2-0 lead.
“Obviously, we had some words at halftime and the guys weren’t happy with their performance,” Scales said. “We came out in the second half and started out pretty strong. We forced the game onto Colgate and really pressed.”
Eager to take back the momentum of the game, Cornell dominated the early play of the second half. Yet, the Raiders weathered the Red storm thanks in large part to the efforts of sophomore goalkeeper David Litvack. Stopping a Cornell breakaway, Litvack also made several crucial saves on well-struck shots from the top of penalty area and was quick off his goal line to snatch up the Red’s crosses into the box.
“We felt as though once we got one goal we’d be able to get another and get the momentum going,” Scales said. “Unfortunately, Colgate got the first goal of the second half, which was the third goal of the game and in essence sealed the deal for them.”
Colgate’s third goal of the game looked very similar to its first as O’Sullivan again found Grimes off a free kick. Defending against set plays has been one of Cornell’s biggest weaknesses so far this season.
“When you look at four or five of the seven goals we’ve given up, all having been scored off of restarts – that’s an indicator of guys just not being alert enough and aggressive enough in the box,” Scales said. “We’ve lost guys in the box, and that’s a spot we will continue to work on in training throughout the season.”
Although frustrated with his team’s three losses so far, Scales recognizes that it is still very early in the season and that the Red is still finding out what works for them.
“We’ve put together stretches of very good soccer. We’ve just not gotten the end result, which is goals,” Scales said. “We’ll continue to evaluate each player and what they add to the position they’re playing. Maybe we need to spice it up a little bit. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer