No other word can describe the No. 16 Yale men’s soccer team’s latest performance but “dominant.”

Yale out-muscled, out-hustled and out-shot Cornell, 19-2 Saturday. But the Bulldogs’ inability to convert proved costly as they fell to the Big Red, 1-0, at Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium.

“We deserved a victory, in our determination, in our play, in our work ethic, everything but in our finishing,” forward Alex Munns ’07 said.

Shot after shot, the Bulldogs came up empty. As the game wore on, the suspense — and the frustration — mounted. It appeared as though it would only be a matter of time before the Bulldogs would score. But their shots kept going wide, high or right to the goalkeeper.

In the meantime, with 21 minutes left in the game, Cornell (5-3-1, 2-0-1 Ivy) unloaded its first shot. Ian Pilarksi settled a long ball on the right wing and fired, but goaltender Matt Aleksinas ’06, in full-extension, pushed the ball just wide of the post.

Less than two minutes later, Cornell earned its second shot. This time there were no goal-line heroics. The Big Red stole the ball from the defense and Andrew George, cutting through the box, knocked Steve Reuter’s cross past a diving Aleksinas into the net.

“It was sort of a lapse,” defender Marc Vimolratana ’06 said. “It wasn’t for long, but Cornell was able to take advantage of it.”

Armed with a 1-0 lead, the Big Red fell back and fortified the defense, forcing the Bulldogs to play from outside the box.

“The game dictates the situation,” Munns said. “We had been playing very indirect, but [with] 10, 15 minutes left and down a goal, we got desperate.”

Yale’s best opportunity came in the 83rd minute, when Jay Alberts ’03 ran the ball to the 18-yard-line and let it go, but his shot sailed over the crossbar.

“We came out and played hard,” team captain and defender Brian Roberts ’04 said. “It’s disappointing to lose against a team you dominated.”

Saturday’s loss marks the latest drop in Yale’s roller-coaster ride of a season.

After opening the season 1-3, the Bulldogs rattled off five wins in a row, including a 1-0 upset against then-No. 17 University of Connecticut and a 1-0 victory over arch-rival Harvard.

But they have since lost two games straight. Yale fell to Boston College, 2-0, on Oct. 14.

“Before the BC game, we all got together as a team to re-evaluate the season,” Munns said. “We thought we knew where we were.”

Yale’s inconsistency is due in large part to the team’s scoring troubles. The Bulldogs have won all their games by one goal while tallying twice only one time this season. In fact, they have played more games than scored goals.

The loss to Cornell — further evidence of Yale’s offensive woes — pushes the Bulldogs from the top to the middle of the Ivy League standings.

“We were on top of the league, now we’re in the middle and fighting to get back,” Munns said. “Last night’s game was a bit of wake up call for us.”

Despite Saturday’s setback, the Bulldogs remain optimistic.

“We haven’t lost faith or confidence,” Vimolratana said. “[Losing to Cornell] certainly makes it tougher to make the postseason. It’s going to come down to winning the rest of our games, but that was how it was going to be regardless.”

Yale next takes on Quinnipiac in a non-conference game tomorrow in Hamden.

[ydn-legacy-photo-inline id=”19174″ ]