The Cornell men’s soccer team (0-0-1, 0-0 Ivy) began its highly anticipated season by letting a victory over Central Connecticut State University (0-1-1, 0-0) slip through its fingers. With home-field advantage and a two goal lead heading into the final 30 minutes, the Red gave up two goals to the Blue Devils and ended with a 2-2 draw.
“We lost a little bit of focus,” junior forward Jonathan Cullom said of the game. “We started off strong with two good goals. Both of their goals were set pieces off long throws, which we definitely could have tightened up on.”
Given the unique position the team is in — touting a new coach after a tenuous season last year — there are definite silver linings to take away from this performance, even if it was not the result the team was hoping for.
One such silver lining comes in the form of freshman striker Brady Dickens. The first-year Cornellian scored the first goal of both the regular season and his collegiate career after carefully striking a batted-away free kick from the back of the box, giving the Red a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute.
“It was a lovely finish,” head coach John Smith said.
According to Smith, Dickens is bound to be a big asset for the Red, despite his young age.
“He’s not the biggest guy on the field, but he’s quite impressive,” Smith said. “He’s obviously a freshman playing as a striker — which is tough — but he made an impression on the game.”
Another positive from Friday’s match comes from an understanding of where the Red is in the progression of their season this year —a season bound to be transformative for the program’s future. While a tie may seem underwhelming or even disappointing, to Smith, it is the first step in the Red’s journey toward long term growth.
“A lot of what we’re doing right now is building up our identity — how we play, what we can be good at,” he said. “It’ll take time for guys to go out knowing their roles. I think anytime you score two goals in a game you’re doing something right. For the first game, all in all, I was pretty impressed with what the group did.”
The players, too, see this result as a motivating factor in their season moving forward.
“It’s all in all a good start,” Cullom said. “Definitely a lot to improve on, but definitely a lot to build off as well. It’s a decent result which gives us momentum to move forward to these bigger games.”
The first of these “bigger games” comes Sept. 5, when the Red will face off against the University of Connecticut (2-1-0, 0-0) on the Huskies’ home field.
According to Smith, this big match up is yet another opportunity for the Red to improve and continue to build their collective identity as a team.
“The game against UCONN is a wonderful opportunity against what is year-by-year a wonderful team,” he said. “We’ll make adjustments, but the priority right now is how we can get better as a team.”