Cornell men’s soccer took a total of 29 shots throughout a commanding 90 minutes on Tuesday, yet junior midfielder Harry Fuller’s precise penalty in the eleventh minute was all that mattered in a 1-0 win against Siena College at Berman Field.
The Red held on to the sole goal, and are once again on a two-game winning streak before facing the University of Akron on Sept. 28.
Dominating throughout the game, the team recorded a 62% possession total, spending 69% of their possessions on the opposite field.
The Red came out with a sturdy yet forceful 4-4-2, with the two center-backs senior Ryan Bayne and sophomore Tate Keir maintaining possession in the backfield and the dynamic wingback/winger duo freshman Connor Drought and sophomore Jonah Kagen attacking the sides. Right from the start, the two were everywhere on the field, delivering silky passes and crosses, then making clean tackles in defense.
“A huge part of our style going forward is getting the fullback in on the attack. Especially for [Siena College], we noticed that their winger didn’t decide to track us when we had the ball,” Kagen said. “It is easier for me to go forward. We get more space, and more space means more numbers in attacking.”
The Siena College Saints never seemed to get a grasp on the offense, totaling only two shots. Their first shot came in the 25th minute off a pass miss from the Red defense. Their second — and last — shot came in the final minutes of the game.
“They tried to play out; they put guys forward and [kept] fighting ’til the end even though they had players sent off,” Kagen said of the Saints’ overall play. Still, he stressed that the team must, and will, work on their finishing as they missed countless quality chances.
Aside from Fuller’s penalty, most of the midfield and forwards had great chances — they just couldn’t connect. Junior forward Vardhin Manoj started the shooting parade in the second minute after a great pass from the freshman left-back Connor Drought. Both sidelines were spry, with sophomore forward Emeka Eneli and substitute freshman midfielder Noel Ortega providing flashy drive-ins, opening up space for the offense to work with.
The defense line that provided two shut-outs in the last five games came up with a strong performance and helped senior goalkeeper Ryan Shellow another clean sheet.
“Everybody on the team has an animal mentality. The entire backline are animals,” Kagen said. “We have a lot of pride in the fact that we are the last line before the goalkeeper. And also our captain Ryan Bayne is back there always barking. He’s always loud, and as a result, the energy is always high … [The noise] is great for us because we’re used to it. In our training sessions, everybody’s yelling. We’re trying to control our emotions, our excitement on the pitch, and the comments from Bayne and Shellow motivates us. We listen to what is said rather than how it is delivered. It’s also intimidating for the opposing side because we are barking and yelling the entire time.”
Now on a two-game winning streak, the Red is preparing to face Akron at 7 p.m. on Sept. 28 on Saturday in Ohio. Though the Saints have the coveted home advantage, the team will play off a six-game losing streak. The Red’s next home game will take place at 7 p.m. on Oct. 8 at Berman Field.