Sports

Ivy title hopes in dire straits for men’s soccer after home defeat

Bruno falls below .500 in Ivy play after not scoring for fourth time in eight games, losing to Cornell

By
Senior Staff Writer
Monday, October 27, 2014

Captain Ben Maurey ’15.5 protects the ball from a Cornell defender. With three goals, Maurey is the team’s leading scorer, but Bruno’s offense has otherwise been anemic, failing to score twice in a game since Sept. 14.

A goal by Cornell’s Eric Nuss exactly half an hour into the game Saturday ostensibly erased the men’s soccer team’s hopes of winning an Ivy League title. The Bears battled for the full 90 minutes, but came up short by a tally of 1-0 against a stifling Big Red defense.

“The guys are hurting,” said Head Coach Patrick Laughlin. “It’s difficult for all of us involved after this loss. We have to take a minute to reflect and then get ready to play the way we know we can play next game.”

Bruno (3-5-5, 1-2-1 Ivy) appeared to score the game’s opening goal 13 minutes into the contest when Jack Gorab ’16 swung a free kick into the box. The ball flew past everyone, bouncing inside the six-yard box and into the top corner of the net. But the free kick was originally granted for dangerous play, meaning it was an indirect free kick and had to touch another player before going into the goal in order to count. Cornell (9-4-1, 2-2-0) was saved by the technicality.

Off a throw-in at the 30 minute mark, Cornell slid the ball around the top of the box, until Nuss ripped a quick left-footed shot past the outstretched arm of goalkeeper Mitch Kupstas ’14.5 into the bottom corner.

The goal came against the run of play, as the Bears had controlled the tempo of the game for much of the half and were forcing Cornell to defend crosses and long balls from all angles. Bruno had a host of chances to equalize, but the team failed to break down the Big Red back line, leading to a 1-0 halftime score.

Though the Bears fired nine shots in the half, Cornell goalkeeper Zach Zagorski stonewalled the attempts on net with four saves. The Big Red was forced to commit 11 fouls in the first 45 minutes to slow down Bruno’s persistent forays forward.

The second half featured similar action, with the Bears searching for an elusive equalizer.

Co-captain Ben Maurey ’15.5 and Quinn English ’18, the team’s dynamic offensive duo, were held in check for much of the half. Maurey distributed the ball well but did not have enough touches to make a real impact, while the Cornell defense managed to contain English and keep him from using his speed on the wings.

Nico Lozada ’18 checked into the game with 30 minutes remaining and immediately opened up Bruno’s offense. The shifty central midfielder provided passing outlets for his teammates and kept the ball moving quickly and sharply around the field. But Laughlin substituted Louis Zingas ’18 — who has a more physical style of play — for Lozada just 16 minutes later, opting for size and speed over offensive flow.

In the final 20 minutes of the game, Laughlin replaced Jameson Lochhead ’16 with Tariq Akeel ’16 and played with an unorthodox 3-3-4 formation. Maurey, English, Akeel and either Gorab or Zingas all stood at midfield, waiting to receive the ball, while the rest of the Bears defended the Cornell offense. The formation created a disconnect between the offense and the defense, leaving Bruno struggling to generate any sort of counter attack.

Co-captain Daniel Taylor ’15 said the new formation was a counter to the stout Cornell defense when time was running out. “We had talked about (the 3-3-4) in the past, but mainly we were just trying to get an equalizer. We wanted to throw everything we had at them,” he said.

Even with four strikers, the Bears could not draw even and dropped their second Ivy League game of the season. Despite Saturday marking the first time in five games that the Bears have failed to score a goal, the team has just one win over the stretch.

“We’re having a hard time getting the critical goal at the critical moment,” Laughlin said. “Today, we went for it as much as we could. The whole game we were attacking, but Cornell has a great defense. They’re hard to break down.”

The loss dropped the squad into a tie with Columbia (5-6-1, 1-2-1) for sixth place in the conference, with just four points in as many games. Meanwhile, Dartmouth (8-4-1, 3-1-0) took sole possession of first place with an overtime victory over the Lions.

While the Bears have yet to be mathematically eliminated from title contention, it would take a series of fortuitous results to even make it into the top half of the standings. But before the team travels to Penn (6-6-1, 2-1-1) this weekend to continue conference play, it must first deal with the University of New Hampshire (5-8-1) in a nonconference contest 7 p.m. Tuesday at Stevenson Field.

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