The men’s soccer team — which is looking to prove it can contend for the Ivy League title — is off to yet another slow start. Cornell (0-1-1) was unable to come away with a win in either of its two contests this past weekend at the Hartwick College 50th Anniversary Tournament in Oneonta, N.Y.
The Red fell to a tough Fairfield (2-3-0) squad 2-1 on Friday evening in the opening game of the tournament and played to a 1-1 draw against Hartford (2-1-1) the following afternoon.
“Although I was obviously disappointed in the results of the weekend, I still thought we played very well considering it was our first two games,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “You can never replicate playing in a game, so right now the most important thing is getting these games under our belts and trying to improve every week.”
In ITS first game of the season, the Red hung with a Fairfield squad that accumulated a record of 14-4-3 (8-0-1 MAAC) last year and had already played three games this year. The Stags took control of the match early as senior Alex Cunliffe connected with a goal in the 13th minute, a lead they would maintain until halftime.
After Cornell squandered several opportunities to put shots on goal, Fairfield junior Sam Bailey capitalized on a botched goal kick to increase the deficit to two just after halftime. However, the Red would not go down quietly as the team immediately responded with a goal of its own just a few minutes later.
Sophomore Miyad Movassaghi served the ball on a free kick from the right side of the penalty box to junior co-captain Kyle Lynch, who quickly deposited the ball into the back of the net with a well-guided header. Cornell had its opportunities to tie the game, as it held a slight advantage in shots at 11-10, but the booters couldn’t find a way to put home the equalizer as the Stag defense smothered the Red’s quick attackers the rest of the game to seal the victory. Sophomore goalkeeper Luca Cerretani made three saves in his first game at the collegiate level, but picked up the loss.
Looking to avenge its first defeat of the year, the Red jumped out to an early lead against Hartford when senior Tom Marks fired and connected on a feed from sophomore Dana Flanders in the 27th minute.
“That was one of the prettiest goals I’ve seen in awhile,” Scales said. “Tom hit a blistering volley from 18 yards out that the goalkeeper simply did not have chance on.”
But Cornell was unable to protect the lead as Hartford’s Gary Muir tied the game up at one with a pretty goal of his own in the 65th minute.
Cornell could not muster up another shot as the teams played two scoreless overtime periods to end the contest in a draw. Sophomore goalkeeper Steve Lesser — who played every minute in net for the Red last year — made two saves in his season debut since tearing his labrum last spring.
“It is going to be a weekly competition for our starting goalkeeper spot all season long,” Scales said. “All three sophomores have a chance. It is just going to come down to who has the hot hand on that given day.”
Next weekend the team will travel to Burlington, Vt. to play against host Vermont and New Hampshire in the Vermont tournament.
“I will continue to experiment with the lineup over the course of the season to try to find the best group of players before we start our Ivy schedule,” Scales said. “But I like what I have seen so far.”