September 18, 2008

Men’s Soccer Still Winless After Home Loss to Albany

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Berman Field was a somber place to be last night. After the men’s soccer team dropped its home opener to visiting Albany — giving up three second-half goals in the 4-0 loss — the shell-shocked squad leaned on each other in the post-game huddle.
“[We talked about how] we’ve got to keep our heads in it,” said senior co-captain Joe Yonga. “We’ve got to start taking pride in ourselves and in each other, and when we get back in practice we’re starting over from Day 1. It’s going to be a new season from here on out.”
Last night’s ill-fated contest brought the Red’s losing streak to five games, a frustrating start to the 2008 season. Before last night, the team had tallied just one goal over two weekends of tournament play against highly-ranked teams such as Cal and Bucknell.
“We wanted to come home, to get off the road [after the losing streak on the road] and hopefully gain the advantage,” Yonga said.
Albany’s Ian Peach introduced an element of physicality early in the game, colliding with Red starting sophomore goalkeeper Scott Brody and then ramming a Cornell player near midfield less than two minutes later.
On the Cornell side, hard-playing junior forward J.J. Bain blocked a hard shot with his body, saving a goal midway through the first half. He was ultimately forced to leave the game, however, when an early yellow card on an after-the-play push combined with an Albany player going down screaming in the 75th minute added up to a red card.[img_assist|nid=31854|title=In control|desc=Sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell (26) controls the ball in Cornell’s 4-0 home-opening loss to Albany last night. Ninety minutes after the 7 p.m. start time, the Red did not feel in control of the game.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“Some players on our team were losing it a little bit. Some players on their team were losing it. Stuff escalated, but that stuff will happen in the course of the game, and you just got to keep going and focus on what your responsibilities are,” said senior defender Dan McKallagat.
Cornell (0-5) had held off Albany (4-2) for most of the first half. With less than five minutes left in the period and surrounded by Red defenders, however, Great Danes freshman Bjorn Beckers took a pass from sophomore Ian Peach and managed to slip a low shot from the left into the far corner past a diving Brody.
Any momentum the Red tended to disappear just as quickly as it had come. In the 65th minute, for example, Brody had a big save off of a penalty shot. The Great Danes responded with a corner less than two minutes later, however, and Claudio Dantas headed the ball home, killing any comeback hopes on the part of the Red.
“It’s the same old thing, people not talking and not communicating,” Yonga said about the defense. “We’re not giving away great goals. They’re scrappy goals that we can prevent.”
The Red attributed the loss mainly to its own shortcomings, not the other team’s skill.
“They were a solid team,” McKallagat said. “They moved the ball well. They were a physical team. But I don’t think they really had any more chances than we did. It just came down to them finishing their chances and us not finishing ours.”
“Obviously we’ve had very frustrating results so far this year,” McKallagat added. “I think the one thing that we have to remember is that we do have a lot of upperclassmen on the team. Everyone assumes different roles … but we all have to make sure that as older guys we keep the character and morale of the team intact.”