Coming out of the program’s first west coast trip since 2004, California was not so sunny on the scoreboard for the men’s soccer team over the weekend. The Red is winless in its young 2008 campaign after losing Friday night to then-No. 11 Cal and yesterday afternoon to Stanford, 5-0 and 2-0, respectively.
The Cornell squad was expecting a challenge from Pac-10 foes Stanford (1-3-1) and especially Cal (3-0-1), which went on to tie No. 7 Southern Methodist University yesterday afternoon and is now ranked No. 5 in the nation.
“We had our work cut out for us when we came out here,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We could have played some cupcakes and gotten some wins under our belt. … We feel that the experience for our guys has been critical.”
The Red also unveiled a new formation over the weekend, hoping to roll out a high-scoring offense.
“We used the 4-4-2 [formation] in both games, and they scored seven [goals] and we scored none, so … I wouldn’t say it was the system’s fault,” Scales said. “If we have to tweak it and make some adjustments, we’ll do that.”
Senior forward Dana Flanders came in off the bench on Friday and was one of just three Cornell players to get at least one shot on goal, compared to the eight players for Cal.
“We knew that they were going to be a good team,” Flanders said, “but obviously we didn’t expect to lose. … I guess the effort we put forward wasn’t 110 percent. We needed to play harder. … It was more of us than them, to be honest.”
The clearest difference between the two teams was in their offenses, as Cal outshot Cornell 21-7 on the night. The Golden Bears struck first barely eight minutes into the match, with senior Pat Marion deflecting in a shot by Cal defender Imaan Kerchgani. The Golden Bears then scored again in 35th minute.
“We had played OK [up until] halftime,” Flanders said. “We had a couple chances at the end of the half. But we couldn’t get it, and that kind of deflated us.”
Down 2-0 after the intermission, the Red’s hopes for a comeback were soon dimmed as Cal striker Davis Paul was having an especially successful night against the Cornell defense. The sophomore scored in the 56th minute, then netted his second goal in two tries less than four minutes after his first tally.
Taking a downfield pass from Carrasco, Paul went in alone and beat senior keeper Luca Cerretani, who started Friday’s game. A.J. Soares added the Golden Bears’ final insurance goal in the 71st minute, but Paul was the standout for Cal.
“[Paul] was very athletic and quick,” Scales said.
“[Cal] played at a different speed than we’re ready for at this stage,” Scales added. “They’re certainly a top-10 team. … We played a good first half. We just lost our legs near the end. Fitness-wise we’re still getting games under our belt.”
Cornell played a much more even game yesterday, however, maintaining a scoreless contest going into the intermission. Four minutes into the second period, Stanford’s Bobby Warshaw sent a header home past sophomore Scott Brody, the Red’s starting goalkeeper yesterday. Cullen Wilson’s header off a long pass from teammate Tommy Ryan gave the Cardinal a 2-0 lead in the 74th minute.
Scales noted the higher “aggression level” against Stanford, which led to better play but also more fouls. Cornell was called for eight more fouls than Stanford.
“[Against Stanford] we were much better on the ball,” he said. “We changed the point of attack much more.
“Friday we were a little sluggish,” said sophomore defender Adam Hardie, who was called for a yellow card of his own over the weekend. “From Friday to [yesterday] there was a vast improvement. … You could see the intensity picking up.”
After not naming a starter in goal all week leading up to the Reds first game, Scales decided to split the starts for the two keepers. Cerratini made four saves Friday, while Brody turned back six shots yesterday.