It was a big week for men’s soccer (4-3-2, 0-1-2 Ivy) as they took on the University of Albany (4-7-1, 0-2-1 America East) on Tuesday, Oct. 3 before an important Ivy League matchup on Saturday against Penn (3-3-3, 1-1-1 Ivy). For Cornell, it was a chance to get a tune-up match against a local rival before it attempted to turn its difficult Ivy League season around.
Against the Great Danes, the Red maintained possession from minute one and limited Albany’s opportunities. Freshman goalkeeper Isaac Delgado got his first career start — replacing sophomore Ryan Friedberg, last year’s Ivy League Rookie of the Year — and helped the team control the ball through his confidence in possession and his skill with both feet. Albany executed its game plan as well, defending aggressively and looking to counterattack while aiming to capitalize on set pieces.
In the early stages, Cornell’s possession led to a lot of opportunities. At 19 minutes in, the Red found a breakthrough when senior striker Matthew Goncalves dropped deep into midfield to pick up the ball, before nutmegging an Albany defender and laying the ball off to sophomore midfielder Westin Carnevale.
Carnevale did the rest, making two defenders miss, as he curled a shot into the far corner to give the Red the lead. Despite facing an onslaught of Albany set pieces and long throws, Cornell held strong and went into the half ahead, 1-0.
In the second half, both teams racked up penalties. Cornell was granted two due to bad last ditch tackles by Albany defenders Santiago Frias and Piet Wiesling. Freshman striker Alex Harris and junior left back Wilson Eisner calmly scored their penalty opportunities, extending the Cornell lead to 3-0.
In the last 15 minutes, Albany mounted a furious comeback. Utilizing its height advantage and skill on set pieces, Albany won a penalty of its own when Frias was knocked down in the box, which Jeff Thielmann converted to bring the score to 3-1.
The Great Danes added another goal five minutes later when Ander Castillo converted a diving header past the outstretched arms of Delgado. But with only five minutes left in the game, Albany couldn’t find a third, and the Red won the game, 3-2.
Following this win, Cornell traveled to Philadelphia to take on Penn. The top two finishers in last year’s Ivy League table, both teams struggled to start the season and are currently in the bottom half of the league.
Once again, Cornell was able to dominate possession. But this time, the Red was not able to find the net. Despite registering ten shots to Penn’s three, Cornell were unable to score, largely due to a lot of sideways passing and the lack of a killer final ball. Six minutes into the second half, the Red gave up yet another costly penalty. Staz Korzeniowski, last year’s Ivy League Offensive Player of the Year, powered it past Delgado to give Penn the lead, which it would hold onto until the end.
Following the game, Cornell head coach John Smith expressed disappointment with his team’s play in both boxes, despite its huge degree of possession in both games.
“We’ve had a heck of a lot of possession, but we haven’t played where we’ve been dangerous enough,” Smith said. “The game isn’t won in between the boxes. It just isn’t. It’s won in those two boxes — how you defend one, and how you attack the other.”