On Friday at Berman Field, Cornell men’s soccer beat out Niagara 3-1. Junior midfielder George Pedlow secured the team’s victory late in the second half with back-to-back goals.
A header goal by the Purple Eagles (2-6) in the 13th minute earned Niagara an early lead. In four of its five wins now, the Red has overcome a deficit.
“Although I don’t want to get in the habit of going behind in games, it does show a great level of mental toughness and belief,” said head coach John Smith.
The Red’s first goal of the game highlighted the talent of its freshman class. Freshman Emeka Eneli, the Red’s leading scorer so far this season, tied up the score near the end of the first half with an assist by classmate Szabolcs Wiksell.
“Almost all the goals we have scored this year have been assisted, which says something about the way we play and the trust we have in each other,” Eneli said.
Later, Pedlow broke the game open, scoring two goals within the final 10 minutes of gameplay. After a shot by Wiksell hit a couple Niagara defenders, Pedlow seized the opportunity and took his own shot.
Pedlow wasn’t finished, though. He scored his second goal just under five minutes later, with an assist by sophomore midfielder Harry Fuller.
“Although we strive to play to the best of our ability and express ourselves on the pitch at all times, nothing is more important than securing the three points” Pedlow said. “It felt great to lift my team over our opponents.”
Despite these imperative offensive plays, Smith said it was his defense that impressed him the most. About halfway into the second half, with the score still tied at one, a foul on Cornell earned the Purple Eagles a penalty kick. Junior goalkeeper Ryan Shellow saved it, despite a switch-up by Niagara.
“When we scouted Niagara, the penalty taker had always gone to his right with his shot … and so this is where [Shellow] would have been thinking of going, ” Smith said. “The fact that he had the wherewithal to read the penalty taker’s body language on approach [and go to the left] to make such a key save was phenomenal.”
Shellow finished the game with five saves.
Along with the victory, the Red gained experience it says will be valuable in the remainder of the season.
“It was a physical game with many similarities to the upcoming Ivy League games, which will be really useful going forward,” Pedlow said.
Cornell takes on Lehigh on the road in another nonconference matchup at 7 p.m. Tuesday.