October 15, 2007

Men’s Soccer Ties Yale After Two Overtimes

Print More

Coming off a 4-1 loss to the Crimson, the men’s soccer team tried to get back on track Saturday night against Yale. But the Red left New Haven with only a 1-1 tie after two overtimes.
Cornell’s (5-4-1, 0-1-1 Ivy) loss to No. 7 Harvard — which was No. 8 at the time — gave the team motivation coming into this past weekend’s conference game against Yale (2-4-3, 0-0-2 Ivy). The Bulldogs, similar to the Crimson, also found a way to frustrate the Red.
“We definitely had expectations,” said junior defenseman Dan McKallagat. “[But] everyone was a lot happier just about the way we played, the tenacity … Even though we didn’t get the win, everybody’s just a lot more pleased with how we played.”
McKallagat and senior tri-captain Aaron Vieira agreed that the Red greatly improved between the Harvard and Yale games and within the Yale game itself.
“Obviously we’re disappointed [not to get the win], but this week we definitely stepped up from last week’s performance,” Vieira said. “In the first half, we had trouble. But in the second half, we put in a strong performance.”
“The first half was kind of tough,” McKallagat said. “There’s now field turf on the field at Yale and the ball was bouncing a lot. It took us a little while to adjust to it. In the second half, we started to really string some passes together … and we were able to get the better play. We really started to get the ball moving. [Yale] probably had the better end [in the first half].”
Though Cornell held the shot advantage, 20-13, Yale senior goalkeeper Erik Geiger made six saves.
McKallagat started at midfield because usual midfielder junior Joe Yonga moved to center back to replace senior tri-captain and defensive force Kyle Lynch, who is plagued by a nagging ankle injury.
“[The game] was 50-50,” said sophomore striker Matt Bouraee. “Sometimes [the Bulldogs] were able to get through our defense, but they weren’t able to capitalize, which was good for us. But then we weren’t able to capitalize either. [Senior midfielder Brian] Kuritzky got unlucky on a couple of shots. As Coach said, it could have been a 7-6 game.”
As it turned out, the only goal-scoring of the game came near the end of regulation. In the 73rd minute of play, Bouraee’s header bounced off the right post past Geiger.
Bouraee notched his team-leading sixth goal of the season.
“It was a goal I didn’t think I could make,” he said. “The cross was really high. I just jumped and kind of hoped to meet it, and I guess the defender under me jumped up [also] and pushed me up too.”
Also on that play, freshman Will Wolfson tallied his first collegiate assist. Wolfson excelled in his first chance at significant playing time, also playing a role in another key moment of the game, according to McKallagat.
“There was one play that really stood out,” the junior said. “In the second O.T., we were able to counterattack [Yale] with about four seconds left. I think it was a 4-on-2. Will Wolfson was able to pass the ball to Matt Bouraee, and he got a shot off but it went just over.”
Bouraee was on the right side, sprinting the length of the field after having run back to play defense in the final minute of the game.
“As I was going up, they were yelling the countdown,” he said. “Maybe if I hadn’t run back on defense, I would have had the energy to concentrate. [The game was] a lot of ifs.”
Though the success of the Wolfson-Bouraee tandem Saturday showed promise, this situation also highlighted a problem for the Red.
McKallagat and Vieira agreed that finishing is the team’s highest priority for improvement.
“In the two overtimes, there was more open play,” McKallagat said. “Both teams had good chances at the goal, but no one was able to capitalize. [The game] was more spread out, and teams would counterattack … If there’s one thing to take from this game, it’s that we need to [work on] finishing the opportunities [we have].”