Cornell freshmen shone in a bounceback match against Colgate after a narrow loss to Penn last weekend, coming up with big minutes to seal the win for the team despite not having a full-strength roster.
Cornell looked comfortable in possession early, circulating the ball around and launching long passes towards speedy forwards.
“We had the lion’s share of possession,” said head coach John Smith.
The defense put on a no-nonsense display in the first half, locking down the Colgate offense. The Raiders did not have a single shot in the first half and finished the game with just two total. Vocal leadership in the back came via senior goalkeeper Ryan Shellow and senior captain and defender Ryan Bayne.
Hustle in the midfield by junior Tyler Bagley was unmatched, as he caused problems for the Colgate defense all game long. Bagley won challenges and looked to combine with forwards, but despite his strong efforts, the game remained scoreless at halftime.
The second half was full of chances for the Red through set pieces. Colgate committed seven fouls in the latter part of the game (15 total on the day). Senior midfielder Harry Fuller stood over almost every dead ball and served multiple dangerous passes.
Cornell also registered eight total corner kicks on the day. The team lacked the finishing touch on these set pieces despite Fuller’s inviting distributions.
Things finally changed in the 69th minute, when freshman midfielder Griffin Garrard came on as a substitute. Five minutes later, Garrard capitalized on a Raider defensive mistake inside the box and hit the ball with his left foot for a clinical goal.
“It was great for Griff to come on and tuck that one away,” Smith said.
Garrard has only recently been featured on the field, picking up a key assist two games ago in an upset win over national powerhouse Akron. For the freshman, patience and hard work off the field are what he says propelled him to show out in the squad lately.
“Every time I get in [the game], I take it as an opportunity to get better and make something happen,” he said.
Midfielder Brandon Morales, also a freshman, was credited with the assist — his third of the year.
Garrard and Morales have been two of the many freshman standouts this season, with defender Will Citron and midfielder Kurt Lehmkuhl also playing important minutes on the field.
Cornell took the game by the 1-0 margin, with much of the credit due to performances of the young core. Coach John Smith has relied on his “soccer-savvy” freshman class for depth this season.
“They are mature on the field and mature off of it,” he said.
Next up, Cornell will play rival Harvard in a 4 p.m. Saturday battle at Berman Field.
“We’ve got to bounce back in the Ivy League and take control,” said Garrard.