October 22, 2007

Men's Soccer Defeated by No. 8 Brown

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The Sun finally came out over Ithaca Saturday afternoon, but the outcome of the men’s soccer team’s match against No. 8 Brown was not so bright. The Red lost the game at Berman Field by the score of 3-1. The defeat came two weeks after falling to another nationally ranked team — No. 8 Harvard — at home, 4-1. According to assistant coach Joe Schneck, the similarities between the two games was striking.
“In a lot of ways [this game] was similar [to Harvard],” he said. “We let up an early goal, and we were on our back heels from the beginning.”
“From the get-go,” said senior tri-captain Kyle Lynch, “we lost the first 15 minutes very bad. They scored a goal after being in our end for ten minutes straight. So I’d say how we came out to begin the first half was indicative of how the rest of the game went. There were definitely spots where we played well. We were finally dangerous at some points, but I’d say the turning point was literally the kickoff.”
Brown scored early when Dylan Sheehan caught Cornell goalkeeper Luca Cerretani alone and tapped in the ball from six yards out after a quick pass from Jon Okafor. The senior anchor of the Red’s back line placed some blame on the defensive effort.
“First of all, we let up three goals. Second of all, we could have let up more than that. We were letting too many crosses get into our box. We were not putting enough pressure on outside wingers and forwards, and they were able to just get serves in the box. And when you have midfielders running loose and forwards running loose in the box, running loose and forwards running loose in the box, they’re bound to score some goals. As a team as a whole, we played poor defense, [with] not enough pressure. And the back four, clearly we didn’t play well enough, [since we gave] up three goals,” Lynch said.
The Red’s offense, however, was often playing defensively itself, passing back more than pushing forward or creating breaks. The Bears outshot the Red 19-4, with Cerretani recording six saves on the day while Brown goalie Paul Grandstrand had only one.
“Brown is a very good team, and when we play a very good team we have to be at our best,” Lynch said. “As a team, as a whole, we just weren’t clicking. We weren’t competitive enough. Especially in the first half, they were winning almost every single loose ball. When a team is that dangerous, when we’re letting them attack us that much — I think they got 15-20 serves into our box behind our defense — they’re bound to score. We’ve got to start fresh.”
Watching the Red’s passive approach, the loud Cornell crowd looked for entertainment in other aspects of the game. With a little more than seven minutes remaining in the first half, Brown junior Darren Howerton’s flip throw-in drew cheers.
In addition to this contribution, Howerton assisted on Brown’s second goal. In the 64th minute, Rhett Bernstein headed in Howerton’s corner kick. Okafor’s header in the 70th minute gave the Bears a three-goal lead.
To get its offense started, the Red needed a little drama to hit the field. Cornell sophomore Matt Bouraee got twisted up with Brown’s Stephen Sawyer near the top of the penalty box less than five minutes after Okafor’s goal, resulting in a free kick for the Red. Junior Dan McKallagat’s 20-yard shot went straight into the left corner of the net.
“It was obviously a typical Ivy League game where it’s chippy [and] a nip-and-tuck affair,” Schneck said.
Though coach and captain agree that Ivy League games are usually aggressive, Brown’s foul tally on Saturday easily topped the Red’s at 14-4. Lynch points to Cornell’s lack of menace and physical play as a factor in the loss.
“I wish we made [the game] more aggressive,” he said. “A skill team like Brown, maybe one of the things we could have done to get the team going was really hit them. Maybe take a few more fouls, a little more hits, just get the team pumped up [and] to get some of the Brown players to back off. But we didn’t make the game competitive enough, and fouls are a way to make the game more competitive. If I had my way, the game would have been more competitive, starting with me.”
After McKallagat’s lone goal for the Red, the team wasn’t able to finish on offense again. Sophomore J.J. Bain nimbly maneuvered towards the goal through at least three Brown players at one point, and he later lofted a pass to junior Dana Flanders, who took the shot after running full speed with a defender. Though the ball bounced off the crossbar, the play kept Cornell’s offensive hopes alive as time was running out.
The team, however, doesn’t have time to dwell on Saturday’s game.
“It’s going to be a quick turnaround,” Schneck said. “We haven’t had a Tuesday game this year, [and] we only have two days before we travel down to Penn State and play a pretty good Big-10 school. We’ve got to just get back on the horse and go from here.”