The season-long struggle continued for the Cornell men’s soccer team this past Saturday. After the team’s first win of the season at Colgate, the Red hoped to build on the momentum when it faced Yale at home. After an evenly-matched first half, Yale went on to score 3 unanswered goals in the second half, and the Red came out with a disheartening 3-0 loss.
Despite a strong comeback victory for the Red at Colgate, the team came into this weekend’s game with a very uninspired showing.
“You know, I don’t mind not winning when everybody’s giving 100 percent effort, I’ll take those losses on the chin,” said Head Coach John Smith in an interview with Cornell Athletics. “But today’s loss is particularly difficult because I think it was a lackluster performance.”
Both teams had similar playing styles in the first half; Yale notched seven shots, and the Red had five. One of the earlier chances came from freshman George Pedlow, whose header was saved by the Yale goalie.
“Both teams in the first half started a little bit slow but with small spurts of playing the ball around well,” Pedlow said. “We were able to find space on the wing and clip in an early ball which caught the two Yale defenders off guard. I got my head on it but didn’t get enough power on it to put it past the keeper.”
After a scoreless first half, Yale quickly came out of the gates and scored a goal within the first 90 seconds of the second half.
“The start of the second half was a silly challenge, and we gave away a free kick in a bad area,” Smith said. “Give all credit to Yale, it was a wonderfully-struck kick, but I felt like it was something we should’ve handled.”
Slow starts to the second half have been an issue for the Red during the season, as Pedlow pointed out.
“[We] came into the beginning of the second half lacking the determination and grit which we needed to win the game in those first 10 minutes,” he said. “We weren’t holding ourselves accountable for winning our individual battles and we simply didn’t play with the intensity that we could have. It happened against Harvard, and we let it happen again in the first eight minutes of the second half against Yale.”
The Red wasn’t able to respond after the quick goal, as Yale went on to score another goal two minutes later, and again in the 53rd minute. The team’s lack of reaction was a point of concern.
“In those moments you let that goal in the first minute and a half, it’s about how you respond, and we responded exactly the opposite of what we should’ve done,” Smith said. “Some of that could be confidence, but I would’ve thought after the game on Tuesday at Colgate that we would’ve had more confidence.”
Pedlow echoed these sentiments, stating that the team didn’t have the proper mentality it needed to finish out the game.
“We put our heads down after the first goal, when what we really needed to do was recognize that there were 43 minutes left in the game, and to come together and have a moment in which we really told one another ‘We can do this,” he said.
The team is looking forward and hopes to set a different tone for the remainder of the season.
“Coach Smith has been ingraining a new mentality of ‘next play,’ which I believe will play an essential part in the team’s mentality moving forward,” Pedlow said. “Although we are disappointed, we can only take what we know we need to work on and move onwards.”
The Red takes on Brown on Sunday in Providence.