Cornell men’s Soccer (1-1, 0-0 Ivy) kicked off its season last week with back-to-back ranked away matchups against No. 22 Vermont (3-1, 0-0 America East) and No. 13 New Hampshire (2-1-1, 0-0 America East). Following a very successful 2022 season, which concluded with an NCAA tournament third round run, the Red looked to start this season off strong.
Against Vermont, Cornell faced a unique challenge. The Catamounts played very directly, with goalkeeper Jack Owen constantly looking to play long balls forward towards towering strikers Mujtaba Mirhasan and Max Murray. Towards the start of the game, this strategy was effective for Vermont, with Murray winning a contested header which fell to midfielder Andrew Millar to volley home from outside the box.
As the game progressed, however, the Red was able to take control. Cornell’s defenders and midfielders dropped deeper, winning the majority of second balls from Vermont headers and dominating time of possession. Senior fullback Connor Drought and junior midfielder Alioune Ka then looked to carry the ball up the pitch, before attempting to slide passes behind strikers senior Matthew Goncalves and freshman Alex Miller.
The Red racked up shot attempts, ending the game with 15 to Vermont’s nine, but were ultimately unable to find the net. Cornell could take many positives from its performance, as they dominated the game for long stretches. Cornell’s high press was particularly effective, as the team swarmed Vermont defenders and midfielders, gaining possession in dangerous areas on multiple occasions. Despite the impressive effort, the Red was unable to find the back of the net, falling to Vermont, 0-1.
Against New Hampshire, Cornell didn’t achieve the same dominance but came out with a different result. In the face of brutal heat, the Red faced an offensive onslaught from New Hampshire. The Wildcats tallied 14 shots across what was a very scrappy game. Sophomore goalkeeper Ryan Friedberg made a career high seven saves, keeping the Red in the game as he did on many occasions last year, and winning Ivy League Defender of the Week in the process.
In the attacking third, however, Cornell failed to create much in terms of offense. Perhaps due to the heat or short rest, the Red pressed much less aggressively than they had a few days before, sitting deep and attempting to hit New Hampshire with long balls down the channels. As often happens in soccer, one moment of brilliance decided the game against the run of play, with senior midfielder Kisa Kiingi scoring a superb long range goal from a loose ball to decide the game. It was the Red’s only shot on target. The Red won the game, 1-0.
Cornell continues their season on Saturday, Sept. 9 in Buffalo against Canisius (1-2-1, 0-0 MAAC).