The long, winless drought continued for the Cornell men’s soccer team, as the booters fell, 2-0, to Princeton last Saturday. The Tigers scored two goals within five minutes of each other early in the second half, improving their record to 4-6-3, 1-2-1 Ivy, while Cornell drops to 3-8-2, 2-3-0 Ivy with the loss. Cornell has not won at Princeton’s Lourie-Love field since 1985.
Both teams struggled offensively in the first 45 minutes of play. Evenly matched, the two squads produced a defensive stalemate in which neither team had many scoring opportunities.
Although Cornell out-shot Princeton, 4-2, in the opening half, most of the Red’s chances came from long-range and the game remained scoreless going into the second half. “Both teams had a couple of chances but nothing was really clear cut,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “It was battle to try and get on top of the game.”
Coming out of the break, the Red seemed to be in position to take control of the game. With crisper passing and better transitions through the field, Cornell exhibited the type of play that had produced wins against Ivy rivals, Harvard and Penn.
“Our second half as far as the ability to pass the ball, was much better than the first half,” Scales said. “We were connecting on our passes a lot better.”
However, Princeton also raised its game from the offensive lethargy of the first half and was able to break through in the 56th minute with the first goal of the game.
Tigers’ midfielder Matt Care played an early ball into forward Andrew Melville, who quickly played a one-two pass back to Care inside the box. Cornell’s freshman goalkeeper, Steven Lesser, having to come out of his goal, couldn’t get back in position to make the save, as Care slammed a shot into the middle of the net.
“They kind of shocked us with that goal,” said junior captain Brian Scruton. “I thought we came out strong in the second half, and just a couple mental breaks on a lot of peoples’ parts [led to Care’s goal].”
Cornell has yet to win a game this season in which it’s given up the first goal.
Five minutes later, Princeton added a second goal to its lead. Capitalizing on a missed clearance and a few broken tackles, Princeton’s Darren Spicer launched a shot from inside the box. Lesser made the initial save, and in the ensuing scramble of red and orange along the goal line, the sideline referee ruled the ball had crossed the goal line.
“We thought [the referee] had called off-sides actually, but he called the center ref over to tell him that it was over the line,” Scruton said. “We watched the tape. It was kind of hard to tell.”
The Princeton loss effectively ends the Red’s Ivy aspirations for the season, as Cornell now sits in fifth place in the league, nine points behind first-place Brown (10-3-1, 5-0-0 Ivy) with only two Ivy League games left.
“It’s frustrating to have the kind of record we have this year,” Scruton said. “I don’t think it really shows how we’ve been playing all year, but we’ve just got to keep coming out, and hopefully we can end the season on a positive note.”
Tomorrow’s scheduled home game against Hartwick has been cancelled, as the Hawks were forced to reschedule a league game against the University of Philadelphia for that night.
“I think the guys would rather play than practice, but I think at this stage of the season, we’re pretty beat up,” Scales said. “It’s becoming increasingly difficult for those guys who have played every single minute of every single game to stay sharp right now. So we’re going to give them a couple of days off, and let them take a little vacation.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer