Even after securing its fourth win of the season Tuesday over neighbor Binghamton, quadrupling its win total from just a year ago, Cornell men’s soccer knew it had more in the tank.
“I thought we were on our back foot tonight,” head coach John Smith said after his squad’s 3-2 win over the Bearcats. “We did well scoring three goals and creating a number of chances, but to be quite honest, [Binghamton’s] coach is probably walking off wondering how he didn’t come away from this game with at least a tie. … I think we were fortunate walking off of the field.”
Part of Smith’s frustration came from the pressure of Binghamton’s front six and their ability to create chances from nothing.
Despite the loss, Binghamton (3-5-1) outshot Cornell, 18-11. Freshman midfielder Tyler Bagley described the Bearcat attack as “one of the best that we’ve played so far.”
Twice the Binghamton offense, which Smith described as a “handful,” was able to break through in the form of Haris Brkovic, who tallied a pair of second-half goals — the first of which tied the game at one and the second to threaten late when Cornell carried a 3-1 lead.
Both Smith and Bagley spoke about the team’s recent resilience, starting with their ability to create chances after being down a goal to St. Francis last Friday, a game which Cornell won, 2-1.
“Anytime where you don’t feel like you played well and yet you win, you are obviously doing something right” Smith said.
The Red’s ability to create chances throughout the match was what they “did right” on Tuesday against a strong Binghamton team.
“We got rattled a little bit,” said Bagley, referring to the adaptations the Red had to make to Binghamton’s strength. “But we maintained our composure as a whole and we put the game away.”
Bagley did his part to help “put the game away” as he ended Tuesday night with the first goal of his career, started by what he called a “gorgeous ball” from classmate Caleb McAuslan.
Bagley’s first career goal could not have come at a better time, as it proved to be the game winner after two own goals by the Bearcats. With that in mind, Bagley acknowledged his team cannot let its foot of the gas at any minute.
“We have to keep up our physicality [and] keep tackling strongly,” Bagley said as the team heads into its upcoming Ivy opener against Penn on Sept. 30.
This physicality was certainly seen against Binghamton, as the Red recorded a whopping 21 fouls compared to the Bearcats’ 11. But according to Bagley, “a couple of yellow cards here were a little soft,” and he praised the team for its aggressiveness to combat the potent Binghamton offense.
Next, the Red will march into Philadelphia looking for its fourth win in a row versus a Penn team that has a less than impressive record of 1-6. This will be both Cornell and Penn’s first Ivy League action, and the two will aim to make an initial statement to the rest of the league on Saturday.
The Red will look to transfer its idea of feeling “fortunate” to have beaten Binghamton into motivation to leave Philadelphia with a win, especially going into a seven-day break afterwards before home games against Harvard and Colgate.
To the team, it is clear that the culture is developing at Berman Field, and the Red seems to have a like-minded view of what it can do to collectively improve. From their post-game attitudes to their post-game facial expressions, the group feels more ready than ever to avenge last year’s overtime loss to Penn.
Correction: A previous version of this story said the entire team ran sprints after the match. In fact, only the reserve players took part in the postgame conditioning.