Cornell men’s soccer (8-4-2, 2-2-2 Ivy) came into Saturday’s crucial matchup against Yale (8-5-2, 3-1-2 Ivy) with a four game winning streak and sitting atop of the Ivy League. In addition to the Ivy League playoff implication, this game was senior night, where the team honored its nine seniors.
Cornell sat atop the Ivy league with eight points coming into the weekend, tied with Yale, Penn (6-3-5, 3-1-2 Ivy) and Harvard (5-4-6, 3-1-2 Ivy), with Brown (5–6, 2-0-4 Ivy) just behind at seven points. Wins by Harvard and Penn earlier on Saturday gave the Red’s match extra importance, as it could clinch a berth in the four team Ivy League playoff with a win, while a loss would seriously hinder its playoff hopes.
From the opening kickoff, the match was defined by a series of one-on-one matchups. For Cornell, it was paramount that star freshman striker Alex Harris got the better of opposing Yale center back Jamie Orson, while the Red’s center backs Wilson Eisner and Andrew Johnson needed to win battles against Bulldog forwards Eric Lagos and Max Rogers.
In the first half, Yale got the better of Cornell. Early in the match, Lagos missed a golden opportunity. Rogers then received a long pass and, after taking two Cornell defenders out of the play with an excellent touch, curled a shot into the bottom left corner. On the other end, Orson kept Harris quiet, with the Red unable to put a shot on target throughout the half. Only a sliding, last ditch challenge from Eisner kept Lagos from extending the Bulldog’s lead, as he had two breakaway chances in a first half where he consistently dominated Cornell’s defense in the air.
The second half was more of the same, with Cornell unable to win individual duels or provide an attacking threat. Orson continued to dominate Harris, who seemed unable to keep up with the defender’s incredibly physical approach.
The lone bright spot for Cornell was the play of junior midfielder Alioune Ka, who looked dangerous with the ball in the final third, consistently dribbling past Yale defenders and tallying the Red’s only shot on goal. As the half dragged on, however, Cornell looked frustrated, unable to capitalize on a huge percentage of possession as its seemingly aimless long balls were repeatedly cleared by the Yale back line.
In the 85th minute, Lagos bullied his way past Cornell defenders and got a goal to cap off what had been a brilliant all around performance, and Yale took the game, 2-0.
With this loss, as well as a Brown win later on Saturday, Cornell no longer controls its own Ivy playoff destiny. The Red needs both a win next week against bottom-of-the-table Columbia (2-8-2, 0-5-1 Ivy), and for Brown to either lose or draw against Yale to clinch its spot. The game against Columbia will take place in New York City, New York on Saturday, Nov. 4 at 6 p.m. and will be streamed live on ESPN+.