Coming off a strong 11-6 season, the Cornell men’s soccer team is looking to turn heads during the upcoming fall season. The Red starts its 2019 campaign on the road against two Big Ten conference powerhouses.
Coach John Smith is confident that his team is up to the task.
“We recruit players who want to play in these kinds of games,” Smith said.
Rallying on the Road:
The Red posted an outstanding 9-1 away record last season and is looking to continue its fruitful travels. Cornell’s road wins last season included victories over Cal State Fullerton (2-1), Lehigh (3-2), and Columbia (2-0). Out of the 10 away games last season, then-freshman Emeka Eneli and/or then-sophomore Charles Touche contributed towards goals in all but one of the matches.
“We do an awful lot on mental preparation. That’s especially important when you’re playing on the road,” Smith said.
Cornell was picked to finish third in the Ivy League preseason media poll. Ahead of the Red are reigning Ivy League champion Princeton and last season’s third place finishers, Dartmouth. Cornell finished fourth in the conference last year with a league record of 4-3. The Red has a promising attack force, but will need midfield and defensive pieces to step up to contend for an Ivy championship.
Game 1 Preview:
When: 5 p.m. Friday at Michigan
Opponent: Michigan Wolverines
2018 record: 12-5-4
Jack Hallahan — Senior, Forward, 2018 Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, United Soccer Coaches All-America Second Team Selection, 2019 MAC Hermann Watch List
Umar Farouk Osman — Junior, Forward, 2018 All-Big Ten Second Team
Scouting report: Strong defense with superior striking talent upfront make this Michigan side dangerous despite losing key pieces from last season in the midfield.
“We have to a good job defensively of shutting them down,” Smith said.
Game 2 Preview:
When: 3 p.m. Sunday at Michigan State
Opponent: Michigan State Spartans
2018 record: 14-5-4
Giuseppe Barone — Senior, Midfielder, 2018 Big Ten Midfielder of the Year, 2018 First Team All American, 2018 MAC Hermann Semifinalist, 2019 MAC Hermann Watch List
Patrick Nielsen — Junior, Defender, 2018 All-Big Ten Honors, 2018 All-North Region, 2019 MAC Hermann Watch List
Scouting Report: Ranked No. 7 in the country by United Soccer Coaches Preseason Poll, this Spartan team has a strong midfield that likes to distribute goals — nine players scored two or more goals for Michigan State last season.
“They have guys that can hurt us,” Smith said.
Cornell Players to Watch in 2019:
Charles Touche — Junior, Forward, Ivy league leader in goals (8) last season
The Red’s deadliest attacking weapon will need to be razor sharp in front of the opponents’ goal.
Ryan Shellow — Senior, Goalkeeper, Ivy League leader in saves (70) last season
The veteran goalie will likely be busy against the early season attacking threats of Big Ten opponents.
Emeka Eneli — Sophomore, Forward, 7 goals and 2 assists last season
The young forward will look to get off to another good start after making an immediate impact as a freshman.
“He had a phenomenal year last year, but will have a target on his back,” Smith said of his attackman.
Harry Fuller — Junior, Midfielder, 4 assists last season
The Red’s engine at midfield distributes the ball well and will look to orchestrate a capable offense.
“He’s a handful going forward,” Smith said of his senior midfielder.
An exciting road weekend for the Red awaits. Coach Smith said his roster will allow him to rely less on individual players this year.
“This is the deepest [team] we’ve [had] since my arrival,” said Smith, who added that he believes these nonconference matches will prepare his team for Ivy League play.