Cornell men’s soccer (14-4-1, 5-1-1 Ivy) concluded its historical season after a 1-0 loss against No. 3 Syracuse (16-2-4, 5-1-2 ACC) on Sunday night at SU Soccer Stadium in Syracuse, NY.
The Orange, looking to avenge a Cornell upset on Oct. 3, controlled most of the game. They led the Red in shots, 16-9, in the contest including four on goal.
Although the first half ended scoreless, the Orange had a good look on goal after a free kick was awarded after a tripping call on the Red. Syracuse came out for the second half playing more aggressively, the first four shots of the second were by the Orange.
Looking for a repeat of last week, when sophomore forward Danny Loko scored two goals in the last 10 minutes to give the Red the win, Cornell once again hoped to break through in the final minutes. The Red came close to pulling ahead off of a corner kick until the Syracuse goalkeeper stopped the shot and threw it to Giona Leibold who scored on the counter-attack with about seven minutes remaining.
Though a loss, it does not mask the progress that this team has made this season. Cornell had the third-most wins in program history this season. It also made its first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 2012, and won for the first time in the tournament since 1977.
After losing key veteran players last year, this team was much less experienced, but many of the players stepped up to the challenge well.
“We were a bit younger and less experienced than we were last year. We lost some key veterans. We definitely have the talent,” said junior forward Kisa Kiingi to the Sun in September. “I think [last] spring was a big period for us to grow as a group and not just get the chemistry, but kind of really learning how to play as a team and fight for each other and work for each other”.
This team mentality translated to this past season, and much of the team success can be attested to that.