Last year, both Cornell and Yale were playing to see who would move to the very bottom of the Ivy League. This year, both teams are 2–0 in the Ivy League, and tomorrow’s game will determine which team will control the number one spot in the race for the Ivy Championship.
“At the beginning of the season nobody would have believed this game would have been for the top of the table, except for the players on each team,” goalkeeper Bobby Thalman ’13 said.
This season, Cornell (7–1–3) has only lost one game: its seasonopener against Niagra University.The Big Red, however, has also been one of the few teams that Yale (6–4–1) has been able to beat consistently in recent years: the Bulldogs have won their last three games against Cornell.
Both teams have beaten Harvard this year. The Crimson lost 1–0 at Reese Stadium, yet a week later jumped out to a one-goal lead in the first half in Ithaca. But Cornell dominated in the second half against the Crimson, scoring two shots off of long breakaway passes. Cornell forward and two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week, Conor Goepel, clinched the victory with a goal of his own 15 minutes later.
Cornell has won its last three games in the second half: both games against Colgate and Penn were decided in the final 10 minutes.
Yale has not played a close game since its victory three games into the season against Quinnipiacwhen the Bobcats tied the score at 2–2 with just six minutes left in the game. Charlie Neil ’12 retaliated just three minutes later to give Yale the win. The Elis have not scored under similar pressure since then.
But Cornell’s road game at Penn seemed like the mirror image to the Bulldog’s last road game at UConn: the Big Red were able to cash in on a lucky bounce off a corner kick to score in the final minute of regulation. The Bulldogs lost in the final minute of double overtime off a similarly unlucky bounce.
Cornell will face a shorter turnaround between games than Yale, as the team laces up just four days after its Tuesday night victory over Colgate. Cornell has only traveled three times this season, playing the majority of its games at home.
Yale has a 5–1 record at home. Neil said that with each passing game the team has been showing improvement —after losing at UConn the team is 3–0.
“Confidence is real high right now,” Neil said. “I think guys are looking forward to getting back onto the field this week… players are getting more and more confident in themselves as the season’s gone on.”
Thalman said the team expects to win all of its games and needs to win if it wishes to achieve its goals.
“From the beginning it was a consensus among the team that we want an Ivy Championship and we want to make the [NCAA] Tournament,” Thalman said. “Anything less would be a failure.”
The Bulldogs will meet the Big Red this Saturday at Reese Stadium for a 1 p.m. kickoff.