The Cornell men’s soccer team was unable to come back from a two-goal deficit against Princeton after battling for an equalizer in Saturday’s matchup at home.
Neither team was able to score during the first half of play. Senior centerback Allen Michael Capo said he felt the teams were fairly evenly matched during those first 45 minutes.
“[Princeton] played a 3-5-2 formation, meaning chances are they would have a bit more possession,” Capo said. “But even then, I thought we did a good job of staying compact in the back, stopping crosses from coming in and following our runners.”
Although the Tigers (7-7-1, 1-3-1 Ivy) outshot the Red (1-12-2, 0-5-0 Ivy) 13-1, most of the shots were wide and out of control. Three saves by freshman Ryan Shellow kept the teams even.
The first goal for the Tigers came five minutes into the second half for a 1-0 lead. Princeton’s second goal came 10 minutes later.
Head coach John Smith gave credit to the Tiger’s lead striker Greg Seifert, who took advantage of the Red’s mistakes and scored both goals for his team.
“In this sport, there are certain areas of the field where you often get punished if you make mistakes or if you fail to recognize danger,” Smith said.
Despite the deficit, the Red continued to battle. A goal for the Red came in the 78th minute, when senior defender Duff Bedrosian hustled after a loose ball 30 yards out on the right wing, and after a few touches, fired it cleanly into the left corner of the net.
“As a team, we did a good job of exposing their weaknesses on the wings,” Capo said.
The Red came close to leveling the score when Capo headed a corner kick from senior right midfielder Madison Heck in the 85th minute. The ball narrowly missed the net, hitting the crossbar.
The second shot on target was taken by Heck just two minutes before the final whistle.
“Every little chance in front of the goal counts, especially in a game like soccer where sometimes chances are few and far between,” Capo said.
The Red had a strong second half, outshooting the Tigers 8-5 and earning four corner kicks.
“We were really motivated by being down,” Capo said. “Going down 2-0 pushed us that much harder to get the next goal, and after we scored, we were even more motivated to score that second goal.”
Smith explained that he wants the team to play with the same intensity at the beginning of the game that they had at the end, when they were down one goal.
“We waited until we were 2-1 down to attack with genuine abandon and drive, and that needs to be how we instinctively attack for the entire game,” Smith said.
Overall, Smith said he is proud of how the team played, pushing Princeton right up to the final whistle. Despite the difficult season, he is content with the persistence the team has shown, refusing to throw in the towel and continuing to work hard in practice and during the games. Smith said he feels this type of character is something that will only be improved upon moving forward.
“At the end of this year this group will sadly be judged by the win-loss column,” he explained. “I say sadly, because what those stats won’t show is how a group came together and bought into the beginning of a project which has helped provide a platform for the future success this program will undoubtedly achieve.”
The Red continues Ivy League play against Dartmouth on Saturday at home for its Class of 2017 Senior Game.