Syracuse mens soccer falls to Cornell in heartbreaker
#7 Syracuse falls to #22 Cornell in heartbreaker
Although it was only 12 minutes into the match, Cornell’s goal was a shock from which Syracuse could not bounce back. The attack commenced with a drive down the left side of the pitch by Cornell defender Connor Drought. Seeing his teammate streak past him, Drought launched a through ball, which beat Syracuse defender Abdi Salim, reaching Cornell’s leading scorer Brandon Morales. After creating some space with a nifty cutback, Morales sent a cross into the box. An unfortunate deflection off the multitude of Syracuse defenders crowded inside the box sent the ball tumbling into the net.
The beginning of the game saw many chances for the Orange to start strong. A few quick passes between midfielders Jeorgio Kocevski and Giona Leibold opened up space for a shot outside the Cornell box in the seventh minute. Midfielder Amferny Sinclair found himself in an excellent position to finish the chance, but his shot went wide left. The Orange found themselves with a few more chances soon after but were stifled by Cornell’s backline.
“I try my best to provide good passes for the strikers to execute,” Leibold said.
After Cornell opened up the scoring in the 12th minute, Syracuse immediately went on the attack. Cutting inside from the left of Cornell’s box, Leibold fired off a shot that sailed to the right of the Cornell goalposts. It was not the last time Leibold would be involved in a scoring chance for the Orange, and it was primarily thanks to his persistent performance that Syracuse was able to get so many opportunities to even the game.
“If you can feed balls to Giona, he’s a real handful out there,” Head coach Ian McIntyre said.
The 27th minute saw Syracuse’s best chance of the first half. Once again, Leibold found himself with the ball to the left of Cornell’s box. With a quick turn inside, Leibold left his marker lying in the dirt as he sent the ball towards defender Noah Singlemann. Singlemann fired a shot inside the box, but it went just left of the net. After finding themselves on the backfoot since the goal, Cornell’s offense returned to life in the 32nd minute. A free kick taken by Connor Drought was welcomed by the open midfielder Daniel Samways, who fired off a shot from the left side of the goal box, which barely missed the top corner. Syracuse had a few more opportunities to even the score before the end of the half, but bad passes seemed to spoil every good chance.
The following 45 minutes of play saw a resurgent Cornell team looking for their second goal. Just a minute after the whistle sounded to start the half, Cornell midfielder Noel Ortega spearheaded a 3-on-3 opportunity in front of the Syracuse box. Ortega found forward Danny Lokko for a scoring chance which was deflected by the Orange defense into the arms of goalkeeper Russell Shealy.
This aggressive play style from Cornell was eventually rewarded in the 66th minute with a penalty kick. A deep ball from Cornell’s side of the pitch reached Cornell forward Matthew Goncalves, who immediately dashed into the left side of the box. Goncalves beat his marker, Abdi Salim, who tripped him up just in front of the keeper. It was all for naught. Goncalves slowly winded up from the spot, his feint making Shealy dive right as he fired the ball into the left side of the net. Syracuse kept pushing for a goal, but it finally came too late to be of any help. A penalty kick taken by Opoku in the last minute of the game brought the Orange one goal closer to a draw, but the whistle sounded not long after.
“We gave up two soft goals against a good team,” McIntyre said. “You can’t do that against a team of Cornell’s quality.”
With this loss, Syracuse falls to 8-2-1 on the year. Although it was a tough defeat, the Orange retained their spot at #2 in the ACC standings. Their next game is against conference leader Wake Forest, who will hit the road to battle Syracuse on Friday at the SU Soccer Stadium at 7 p.m.
“We know we’ve got a huge test on Friday,” McIntyre said. “It’ll be a fun soccer match.”