With the home-side bleachers filled to capacity for Family Weekend, the No. 14 men's soccer team (9-1-3, 2-1-1 Ivy League) picked up a 2-0 victory in an Ivy must-win game against a struggling Cornell (4-6-4, 0-3-1).
"An Ivy game is always going to be tough," said Head Coach Pat Laughlin. "When you get to this part of the Ivy season, points matter so much. They make a huge difference and a huge swing. All we can do is try to take care of our own business."
The Bears started the game with some hesitance in their performance. Cornell defender Matt Stengel caused some problems with his throw-ins sailing for 30 yards, resembling lofty corner kicks. Players miscommunicated on several passes and headers were sent out of play.
"I think we were so intent on putting in a good performance that we came out playing stiff," Laughlin said. "After they got the shot, we really started to come into it."
"The shot" was a well-executed cross in the 13th minute by midfielder Taylor Gorman '12 from near left post to midfielder Thomas McNamara '13, who drove the ball hard into the back of the net. McNamara also found the goal in the second half, when he blazed past two Big Red defenders before firing a one-on-one shot past Cornell goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer at 64:29.
"I'm happy to finally get some goals under me," McNamara said. "Everybody scores every game, and today was just something different and it happened to be me. We got the ‘W' and that's what matters."
The Bears exhibited a staunch defense, as a strong showing by the back four helped goalkeeper Paul Grandstrand '11 make his way into the team record books. Grandstrand now has the most single-season shutouts and is one away from leading the career shutout category.
"We came out and played strong," said midfielder Bobby Belair '13, who assisted in the shutout effort. "We knew Cornell was going to be a very physical team. I just wanted to stay behind the ball and play sound defense."
Injuries plagued the Big Red during the match. A tense feeling filled the air in the 14th minute when defender David Walls '11 and Cornell forward Franck Onambele collided heads in midair. Walls walked away, but a trainer helped Onombele press a towel against his bloody face before helping him limp off the field. Cornell Head Coach Jaro Zawislan said Onombele was taken to the hospital and that adjustments had to be made.
"There aren't too many teams that can absorb such injuries, but I think our guys played well and gave us quality minutes," Zawislan said. "I'm proud of everyone who played."
Brown had to play without forward Jon Okafor '11, who leads the points column for the team, and forward Austen Mandel '12, who leads in assists. A wide rotation of Bears made up the difference, with several reserve players seeing notable time.
"Playing time is won and lost in training and on performance in-game," Laughlin said. "If you've been playing a lot, it's because you've been playing well in games."
Signs of frustration set in for the Big Red near the midway point in the game. The referee issued a yellow card to defender Ben Kenyon after he tackled to stop a break by forward Sean Rosa '12.5. Another card was given to defender Jake Rinow after slide-tackling Rosa, who was tracking a ball out of bounds. At one point late in the game, Kenyon screamed at his teammates to "stay on the ball."
"Every game we are looking to pretty much go after the teams with the high pressure and high-tempo type of the game." Zawislan said of his team's gameplan. "We are not going to set back by design."
Bruno will be home on Tuesday against Holy Cross at 7 p.m. before traveling to Penn on Saturday for a 7:30 p.m. game that could potentially decide the Ivy League champion.