This time around, the men’s soccer team found itself on the other side of a last-second goal. Yet freshman midfielder and forward Andy Shorten’s ’11 goal with four seconds remaining was only icing on the cake for the Bulldogs (5-6-1, 1-2 Ivy), who handily defeated Cornell (1-10, 0-3) 3-0 on Saturday in Ithaca, N.Y.
Shorten, defender Frank Piasta ’09 and forward Charlie Neil ’12 all scored their first career goals for the Bulldogs.
On the other side of the field, Travis Chulick ’10 made six saves for the away squad, posting his fifth shutout of the year.
Yet compared to Yale’s consistently stingy defense, the offense’s resurgence was the story of the game. The Elis’ three tallies against the Big Red were more than they had notched in their last five games combined.
According to midfielder Justin Song ’10, the difference stemmed from simply taking advantage of offensive opportunities.
“When we did get chances, we finished — which is something we’ve struggled at in the past couple of weeks,” Song said.
He also attributed much of the team’s success on offense to strong play on the right, with the combination of outside midfielder Jon Carlos ’10 and defender Jordan Raybould ’10, who made runs up from the back line, taking advantage of Cornell’s weaker positions on the left.
The scoring began early, when Piasta tapped an Eric Meyer ’11 cross in after a quickly played corner in the 11th minute. Instead of sending the ball directly into the penalty box as is usually done, Meyer combined with Raybould before finding Piasta. According to captain and defender Alex Guzinski ’09, the Elis’ first goal was the result of perfect execution of a play the team had been working on in practice.
After having struggled to score early for much of the season, Piasta’s goal was crucial, especially in a hostile away environment.
“It gives any team a lift to take the lead,” head coach Brian Tompkins said. “We never really looked back from there, it created some momentum for us. We’ve been tied or have been behind in recent games.”
The second half of scoring was all about the freshmen, especially first-year strikers. Neil scored six minutes after the second half restart off a long ball from Andy Hackbarth ’12 that was bobbled by Big Red keeper Scott Brody. Tompkins said Neil, who has made an immediate impact up top, especially in winning head balls for the Bulldogs, deserved the goal.
“It was great for Charlie to get a goal,” Tompkins said. “He’s worked very hard this season and until then, hadn’t rewarded himself yet this season.”
As Cornell began applying considerable pressure during the second half, the Yale defense held strong. Although the Big Red got off 10 shots in the last 30 minutes of the contest, Chulick was only forced into making three saves, with some going wide and others being blocked by Yale defenders. According to Guzinski, the six blocked shots by Yale’s defense is a testament to his team’s willingness to lay their bodies out on the line.
“Our team has been really good at blocking shots this season,” Guzinski said. “We haven’t been scared of getting in front of the ball, committing our bodies to block the ball.”
In an ironic turn of events, Shorten’s goal was similar to the late-minute strike that lost Yale’s previous game against Boston College on Wednesday. With time winding down in the game, Shorten won the ball in the middle of the field and beat several Cornell defenders before slotting the ball past Brody.
According to Guzinski, the team’s first Ivy League victory, along with other favorable conference results, has given the Bulldogs a chance to compete for the Ancient Eight title.
“It’s a new sign of hope,” he said. “The Ivy League has opened up, with only one unbeaten team remaining. It provides that much more to play for.”
The Elis play their last non-conference game against perennial powerhouse UConn (7-3-4) in Storrs, Conn., at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.