While it was once again freshman forward Alex Harris who provided the decisive goal for men’s soccer (8-3-2, 2-2-1 Ivy) in an Ivy League victory over Dartmouth (4-7-2, 2-2-1 Ivy), phenomenal team play was the important factor across a week which saw the Red claim first place in the Ivy league standings. Following a tough non-conference test on Tuesday, Oct. 17 against Binghamton (4-8-2, 2-2-1 America East), Cornell rode a wave of momentum into its clash against the Big Green.
Against Binghamton, the game started out scrappy, with neither team able to maintain control of the ball, and both sides looking to do damage to their opponents on the counterattack. This favored Cornell, which relied on senior defender Cam Maquat and sophomore defender Andrew Johnson to chase down the Bearcats’ runners, before launching a series of dangerous offensives, forcing goalkeeper Jack Root to make three early saves.
In the 27th minute, the Red found its breakthrough, as an attacking surge saw the Bearcats outnumbered. Senior fullback Connor Drought snuck in at the back post, and a smart pass from freshman midfielder Balazs Feher gave him a chance at an open net, which he calmly finished to put Cornell up, 1-0.
The Red took the lead into halftime, but looked complacent at the start of the second. Binghamton upped the pressure, and an error in possession from Drought gifted the Bearcats a corner kick, which it converted to bring the game level less than two minutes into the second half.
The rest of the period was fairly even, with both teams having opportunities, until a Binghamton red card changed the flow of the game in the 80th minute. The Bearcats began defending deep in its own box, and a misfired shot from Harris in the 86th minute created a scramble in front of goal.
Freshman midfielder Connor Miller found himself in the right place at the right time, pouncing on the loose ball before firing it home to win the game. It was Miller’s first career goal, and came at an opportune moment.
Following its late win, the Red traveled to Hanover, New Hampshire on Saturday, Oct. 21 to take on Dartmouth. Due to a recent run of good results, a win for Cornell would leave it tied at the top of the Ivy standings with two games left to play.
The Red looked sharp in the first half, racking up five shots on target, but an excellent performance from goalkeeper Costi Christodoulou kept the score level. Sophomore keeper Ryan Friedberg only needed to make one save as the Cornell center backs had another strong performance, allowing Cornell midfielders like junior Alioune Ka and sophomore Westin Carnevale to concern themselves more with attacking the opposing goal.
In the second half, Cornell came out firing, forcing the Big Green’s keeper into action early before finally finding the back of the net in the 50th minute. It was Harris on the score sheet once again, as he finished a combination by Miller and junior right midfielder Daniel Samways with a tap-in into an empty goal.
Less than three minutes later, Cornell powered forward, Harris holding up the ball for senior forward Matthew Goncalves. After a tricky move from Goncalves to beat his defender, Feher was the one to pounce on the opportunity, sprinting past the retreating Big Green defensive line to smash the ball into an open net.
Dartmouth had more control of the ball for the rest of the game, but was unable to put a shot on target, and the Red cruised to the top of the Ivy League table with a 2-0 win. Despite the momentum the team built over its winning streak, Cornell players like Ka recognize that there is still work to be done in the remaining conference games.
“Every match in the Ivy League is tough,” Ka said. “We have to stay disciplined in preparation for our next matches.”
The Red returns to Berman Field on Saturday, Oct. 28 at 4 p.m., where it takes on Yale (7-5-2, 2-2-1 Ivy) in a matchup with major playoff implications. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.