The last four weeks in men’s soccer can be summed up in one word — disappointment.
The Elis (4-8-1, 1-3 Ivy) lost their fifth game in a row Friday night, falling to Cornell (2-5-3. 1-2-1), 2-1, in Ithaca, N.Y. The Ivy League standings were shaken up by the loss, as the Big Red jumped from last in the conference to fourth and the Bulldogs dropped from fifth to seventh.
After a Cornell shot beat two defenders to find the back of the net in the fourth minute, the Elis rebounded to tie the game in the 19th minute. The ball was played to midfielder Jon Carlos ’09 from the defense, who received it on the wing and dropped it back to forward Alex Munns ’07. Munns then took a quick shot at the top of the 18 to knot the score at 1-1.
The first half may have ended with an even score, but the game was anything but balanced in the second half.
“We had some opportunities to put the game away,” forward Gage Hills ’07 said. “We just ended up giving them a little too much space.”
The Big Red took advantage of that space and outshot the Bulldogs 11-1 in the second half, scoring in the 70th minute of the game to pull ahead, 2-1. The Elis were unable to respond because of their weaker play in the second half.
“In the first half, we did a lot better job of possessing the ball, but we had a lot of time to come back [to score]. We moved the ball well,” goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 said. “In the second half, we got too caught up in needing to score right away and started playing long balls instead of possessing, which played right into their hands.”
Yale head coach Brian Tompkins also said that Yale’s relative inability to control the ball in the second half was part of the reason for the Cornell victory.
“We didn’t take care of the ball as well, we didn’t pass it as well and we didn’t possess it as well,” he said.
The Bulldogs’ strength this season has been their ball control and their ability to use each other to move and to possess the ball. Because they struggled with these aspects of their play in the second half, the Elis lost control of the game. But it was more than just tactics — there was a mental breakdown between frames as well, Tompkins said.
“I think we lost the rhythm of our passing,” he said. “It was a matter of concentration and composure.”
Even though the Elis did not play up to par, Geiger gave credit to the Big Red for stepping up to get the victory.
“We gave them the opportunities to get in the game, and they took advantage of our lackluster performance in the second half,” he said
The silver lining to the disappointing defeat in Ithaca is that Elis’ problems are all controllable, Geiger said. The team will work on developing its strengths — possession and ball control — this week before they battle league leader Penn at home.
“What we need to do is spend this week making sure that we can get the simple things right — our pass and our possession, our finishing,” Tompkins said. “We need to sharpen up our defense, we’re conceding too many goals off free kicks and corner kicks.”
Despite the disappointment against the Big Red on Friday, the team, ever confident, looks ahead to the match against Penn at 7 p.m. on Saturday.
“We were disappointed with the outcome in the Cornell game,” Tompkins said. “But we’re going to try and pull everything together to beat Penn.”