The Cornell men’s soccer team is no stranger to maintaining its composure under duress. The Red kept cool once again, as the team was able to come from behind to equalize the score against Penn on Saturday in its Ivy League opener.
Playing on a cool Saturday night at Rhodes Field, the Red (4-3-2, 0-0-1 Ivy) refused to relent to the host Quakers (1-6-1, 0-0-1) ending the 90 minute play period and both overtime periods with a 1-1 final score.
The draw extends the Red’s undefeated streak to four games — the longest since the team’s four game winning streak in 2014.
Despite a rocky start, which Penn capitalized on to score a goal in the 19th minute, Cornell remained resilient to keep the Quakers scoreless for the remainder of the game.
“We did not start the game well,” said junior captain defender Ryan Bayne. “We essentially invited Penn to get comfortable and play their game. As a result, we found ourselves down a goal at the half.”
Undeterred by the deficit, Cornell relied on poise from upperclassmen and underclassmen alike to persevere.
“I think we have a group of guys this year that is more confident in our ability to score goals and put pressure on opposing teams,” said senior captain defender Eric Nuss. “We have been in situations this year where we have been down a goal and have had to come back so it was something we knew we were capable of doing.”
Bayne agreed that his team succeeded at keeping its head up.
“The upperclassmen did well to stay positive and urge our guys on and battle through the frustration of the first half,” he said. “The young guys did well too, continuing to push — the team as a whole never gave up. That’s why in the second half we started playing more like ourselves and grabbing a hold of the game.”
The Red’s persistence finally paid off in the 76th minute when freshman midfielder Caleb McAuslan found the back of the net to put Cornell on the scoreboard. Despite aggressive offensive efforts from the Red, which forced Penn’s goalkeeper to make six saves, both teams’ scoring attempts were thwarted and the match ended in a draw after two overtime periods.
“We were pushing all through the second half and overtime, playing much of the game in Penn’s half of the field,” Bayne said. “It’s unfortunate that we weren’t able to put more of our chances away. We generated quite a few quality ones.”
The game proved to be a valuable lesson for the young team.
“Next time we are really going to try and start games better; we were slow in the first half and we paid for that,” Nuss said. “We need to play smarter and play with more intensity right from the opening whistle and continue that work rate throughout the entire game.”
The Red finds itself back in Ancient Eight action on Oct. 7 at 4:30 p.m. when it hosts Harvard (2-5-1, 1-0-0) at Berman Field.
“Many guys got their first taste of what it’s like to play in an Ivy game, where there’s an extra edge to the play,” Bayne said. “[It’s] good to get that out of the way. Also coming back from a goal down, on the road, to get at least a point in your Ivy opener it’s a good lesson for us.”