Men’s soccer (3-2-1, 0-0-1 Ivy) began its home season last week with a win against No. 7 Syracuse (4-1-3, 1-0-2 ACC) on Tuesday before traveling to Cambridge to take on Harvard (1-2-4, 0-0-1 Ivy) on Saturday.
Going into the game against Syracuse, Cornell had revenge on its mind. Last season, the Orange ended the Red’s run in the NCAA tournament, en route to a national championship, in a game that Cornell dominated for long periods. This year, the Red looked to convert that degree of control over the game into a marquee win in front of a raucous home crowd.
As is typical of rivalry games, the match was very disconnected from the beginning, with both teams putting in extra effort off the ball and committing many fouls — leading to a back and forth affair with little settled possession for either team. This type of game favored a very physical Syracuse team, who looked to play long over the Cornell press and win their duels in both boxes. Although Cornell’s defensive line limited the Orange’s opportunities throughout the half, the away team took the lead just before halftime with their only shot on target. Cornell took 10 shots in the first half, but a combination of wasteful finishing and a swarming Syracuse defense prevented all but one of these chances from troubling Syracuse goalkeeper Jason Smith.
Coming out of halftime, the Red looked much more fluid and was able to convert its high degree of possession into great attacking opportunities. Early on in the second half, a sustained period of Cornell pressure led to a shot on goal, which Smith parried into a dangerous area. Senior midfielder Kisa Kiingi reacted first, winning the ball and playing an accurate pass to freshman striker Alex Harris, whose first-time finish drew Cornell level.
Twenty minutes later, it was Harris who scored once again, as an accurate diagonal pass from senior center back Andrew Johnson found the foot of senior striker Matthew Goncalves. With a slight touch and a devious bounce, Goncalves deceived two Syracuse defenders, leaving Harris a golden opportunity which he smashed home to give Cornell a 2-1 advantage. Despite a period of sustained pressure from Syracuse, which included a goal that was disallowed for offsides, Cornell hung on, handing the Orange its first loss of the season.
Following this important win, Cornell kicked off Ivy League conference play with a matchup against a Harvard team that had struggled in the opening weeks of the season. In what constituted a nightmare start for the Red, Harvard struck first only four minutes into the game, with forward Alessandro Arlotti rising above the Cornell defense to head home a superb cross from William Ebbinge. Just six minutes later, the Red equalized, as Goncalves looped a header over the Harvard goalkeeper following a fast counterattack and a cross from Harris. Harris’s exploits across both games earned him Ivy League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
The rest of the game was largely defensive, and although Cornell created a number of attacking chances, neither the Red nor Harvard were able to find the back of the net, and the game ended in a draw.
Cornell returns to Berman Field against Brown (2-4-1, 1-0 Ivy) on Saturday at 4:00 PM. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.