Men’s soccer kicked off the season with a three-game road trip, starting on Saturday in Santa Barbara, California. The team faced off against UCSB (2-1-1, 0-0 Big West) for the first time since last season, when it won a thrilling 4-3 match in double overtime at home. Continuing its recent trend of dominating California competition, the Red started this season with a win, besting the Gauchos, 2-1.
The Red (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) is looking to build on a strong 2021 campaign in which it went 11-3-2, including an undefeated mark in home games. UCSB entered this season just outside of the top 25, receiving 18 votes in the United Soccer Coaches poll.
On Friday, Cornell wasted no time getting its offense started up, striking first in the eighth minute. The Red intercepted a throw-in from the Gauchos, quickly pushing the ball up to sophomore forward Alioune Ka. After beating a defender, Ka made a sliding shot, passing UCSB’s keeper on the left side.
Freshman goalkeeper Ryan Friedberg put on a strong showing in his collegiate debut, tallying four saves. His lone blemish came in the 39th minute, when the Gauchos capitalized on a free kick set up by a Cornell yellow card. Thaabit Baartman had his shot deflected by the Cornell wall, but it stayed on goal and beat Friedberg. And just like that, the match was tied at one.
Nevertheless, it took just two minutes for the Red to reclaim the lead. A give-and-go between junior defender Kisa Kiingi and senior midfielder Brandon Morales set it up for Cornell. Kiingi was able to find freshman forward Dakota Jonke across the box, who tapped it into the back of the net, from just outside the six-yard box. Jonke’s first collegiate goal gave the Red a 2-1 lead heading into halftime.
UCSB’s best opportunity to level the game came in the 74th minute. The Gauchos executed a corner kick, setting up a header inside the box. It took a full extension by Friedberg to make the save, as he got just enough of his left hand on the ball to force it out of bounds.
Despite seven fouls and two yellow cards in the second half, the Red’s defense remained strong, allowing only two shots in the final 45 minutes. While Cornell was not able to build on its lead, it finished the game with a 2-1 victory.
The Red remained on the West Coast for one more game, facing UC Irvine (0-2-1, 0-0 Big West) on Labor Day. Cornell continued their hot start with a 1-0 victory over the Anteaters. After a scoreless first half, the Red took the lead in the 54th minute, when Ka capitalized on a corner kick from junior defender Connor Drought. It was goals in back-to-back games for Ka.
Cornell will look to continue its winning streak when it heads to Philadelphia to take on Saint Joseph’s University on Saturday at 5 p.m. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.