Jason Wu/Sun Senior Editor

Senior forward Mia Gonzalez scored the lone goal in the Red's 1-1 draw against Villanova.

September 19, 2023

Women’s Soccer Secures Draws With Binghamton, Villanova in Tightly Contested Matchups

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After a week of battles against Binghamton (1-4-3, 0-0 America East) and Villanova (3-0-5, 0-0 Big East), women’s soccer (2-0-4, 0-0 Ivy) picked up two draws to extend its season unbeaten streak to six games.

Coming off a draw to Buffalo, the Red looked to rebound against a Bearcats team with only one win on the season. Despite Binghamton’s early season struggles, their aggressive offensive approach was evident in the first minutes of the opening half. Quick passes consistently found their way into the goalie box, with the Red’s defense stopping the Bearcats’ progress in multiple instances. 

In the 10th minute, a handball by Cornell set up a free kick for Binghamton and a goal scoring opportunity. Defender Lexi Vegoda took the shot and scored, burying the ball into the bottom left of the goal, and giving the Bearcats an early 1-0 lead.

Cornell’s offensive pressure did not begin until the second part of the first half, with an offensive triangle between senior forwards Laken Gallman and Mia Gonzalez, and freshman defender Kayla Ristianto leading to a shot by Gonzalez and a save by goalkeeper Kaitlyn Williams. 

With Binghmton leading 1-0 at halftime, head coach Rob Ferguson was not happy with the play of the first 45 minutes and looked to send a message to the team at halftime. 

“We were terrible in the first half,” Ferguson said. “From our standards, we were nowhere good enough. We made a couple of [substitutions during the end of the first half] with the message of [pressuring] when their goalkeeper and center backs had the ball. [Our play] was better, but [Binghamton] still looked like the better team for 45 minutes.”

Ferguson’s message to the team appeared to make a difference, with Cornell forwards and midfielders attacking the ball early in the second half. 

In the 54th minute, the Red tied the score at one apiece when senior midfielder Reagan Pauwels took a free kick from the right side, finding junior forward Sydney Malaga, who headed the ball past the dive of Williams. 

Both teams scored once again, leading to a 2-2 draw and a 2-0-3 record for the Red on the season. Despite the slow start, Ferguson was proud of the second half effort and the change in mindset from his players.

“We said a lot at halftime, but the final thing was I said ‘I don’t care as much about the outcome of the game after that first half,’” Ferguson said. “I care [more] about the response and how willing they are to take a message and do the right things. [The rest of the game] couldn’t have gone any better and it was close to perfect from an attitude and mindset standpoint.”

The Red had less than a week to sit on this draw before traveling to Philadelphia to take on the Wildcats on Sunday, Sept. 17. Highlighted by sophomore goalkeeper Natalie Medugno’s career-high five saved shots, the match ended in a 1-1 draw — Cornell’s fourth of the season. 

The Red opened the scoring in the fourth minute, when Gonzalez beat a Villanova defender and received a pass from sophomore midfielder Mariana Kessinger. Gonzalez then shot the ball off the post and into the goal to give Cornell the lead.

Villanova’s score came in the 28th minute when forward Makayla Stadler knotted up the match on a header off of a free kick — the ball ranging slightly past the outstretched arms of Medugno and into the back of the net.

“We adjusted very well into a 3-6-1 at halftime and played incredibly well for 15-20 minutes, and pretty well throughout the second 45,” Ferguson said. “There was always the potential for this adjustment and kudos to the players for implementing what we did in training on Friday.”

With the draw, the Red looks to get back in the win column when they take on its first Ivy League opponent of the season, Princeton (5-1-1, 0-0 Ivy), at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 23 in Princeton, New Jersey. The game will be broadcast on ESPN+.