November 17, 2008

Loss to Lions Caps Season for M. Soccer

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The 2008 season for the men’s soccer team ended with fanfare on Saturday. Unfortunately for Cornell, the celebration was honoring its opponent Columbia, as the host Lions shut out the Red, 2-0, on the Lions’ Senior Day.
Cornell (1-15, 0-7 Ivy) finished the season with the dubious distinction of a winless record in conference play. Columbia (4-12-1, 2-5) limited the Red’s offense to just two shots before halftime, and seven total.
“We had a pretty rough season, so we wanted to win our last game,” said sophomore Cornell midfielder Scott Caldwell. “But it didn’t happen.”
[img_assist|nid=33657|title=Leg up on the competition|desc=Sophomore forward Jeff Zimering (16) and the Red offense has been shut out eleven times in 2008, including Saturday’s 2-0 loss at Columbia.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Going against the wind and the New York City-based squad on Saturday, the Red struggled to maintain possession from the start. The Lions’ sophomore striker Bayo Adafin netted his team-high seventh goal of the season 19 minutes into the match.
Caldwell was on the other side of the field, but he could still recognize how good the shot looked.
“He basically shot it off the goal line,” Caldwell said.
Receiving a pass from senior Scott Strickland, Adafin brought the ball down the left side and shot it at an extreme angle. The ball got by senior Cornell keeper Scott Lesser into the far corner, giving the Lions an early lead.
“I don’t want to take any credit from their forward, but essentially what happened was that [Adafin] got the ball in the corner and it looked like he was trying to cross the ball but it bent into the far corner [of the goal],” said senior Red defender Dana Flanders. “I don’t know if he meant to score, but it was pretty perfectly placed.”
“That’s just the way things have been going for us,” he added, as the Red’s one-win season came to a close.
The weekend’s matchup was the eleventh time this season that Cornell had been shut out. Columbia’s back line, anchored by senior center back James Pounder, didn’t face any significant pressure from Cornell’s offense — the Lions were the ones executing their attack plan.
“The first half, they had us under pressure all the time,” Caldwell said. “They kept us in our half a lot, and we had trouble getting the ball up to our forwards. In the second half, we made some adjustments and got the ball up to our forwards more. … We were just playing harder in the second half.”
“We came out a little more fired up in the second half,” Flanders agreed. “Our coach gave us a pretty good motivational speech at halftime, which I think helped.”
Though Flanders didn’t want to repeat what was said in the halftime huddle, it was enough for the Red to narrow the shot differential from eight in the first half, 10-2, to just one after the intermission, 6-5.
Columbia goaltender Alex Aurrichio posted his second shutout of the season — three of the freshman’s four saves came in the second half. The sense of urgency didn’t carry the Red to victory, however, as the Lions netted an insurance goal about 10 minutes into the second half.
Positioned at the top of the box, sophomore midfielder Pepe Carotenuto found the back of the net in the 56th minute.
This was the last collegiate contest for Cornell’s 10 seniors.
“It really hit me as I was coming off the field, [how I will miss practicing and playing with my teammates],” Flanders said. “We didn’t get the result we wanted, but I walked off the field happy.”
With several starters and a group of up and coming underclassmen returning for next year’s campaign, all the Red can do now is reflect on what went wrong and look to 2009.
“I think we just need to play better together as a team,” Caldwell said. “We have talented players, we just need to be more cohesive [next year] and we’ll be fine.”