As the men’s soccer team continues to experience, one is the loneliest number.
For the second straight year, the Quakers began Ivy League play with a heartbreaking one-goal loss to Cornell, with this iteration coming by a final of 3-2 in Ithaca, N.Y.
After senior Travis Cantrell cut Cornell’s two-goal lead to one in the 63rd minute, the Red and Blue had multiple chances to tie the game, yet none bigger than Bryan Yasukochi’s in the 78th minute. Yasukochi got the ball down the right flank and had a promising shot, but was denied by a quality save from Cornell goaltender Rick Pflasterer, who deflected the ball off the crossbar.
Penn had chances on set pieces with two corner kicks in the final 10 minutes, but Cornell’s defense just held off the Quakers’ rally.
Penn’s loss was its sixth defeat by one goal this season. The Quakers (2-8, 0-1 Ivy) have consistently been on the verge of getting a big win that would jumpstart them out of their woeful beginning to the season.
“There’s still a lot of soccer to be played,” Penn coach Rudy Fuller said. “I think we’re getting sick and tired of the opposition’s coaches telling us how good of a team we are and how surprised they are at our record.”
Unlike the struggling Quakers, Cornell (9-0, 1-0 Ivy) came into the game looking to defend its undefeated record and continue its consistently strong play.
The Red and Blue began the game in encouraging fashion with a goal in the 12th minute from midfielder Louis Schott. However, Cornell responded 20 minutes later with a seven-minute barrage of three goals before halftime, led by the nation’s leading scorer, Daniel Haber.
Haber scored the second of the three goals and proceeded to assist on the third four minutes later. Haber’s goal was his 14th on a season where he has led the Big Red to a spot in the national rankings.
Cornell provided a tough test for a shorthanded Penn team, which was without its normal netminder. The Quakers had Tyler Kinn at goaltender in the place of starter Max Kurtzman, who was injured Wednesday against Drexel.
“Tyler did very well in goal,” Fuller said, “He made two big saves, did what was required of him, and we just needed to do a better job defending in front of him.”
Despite having a different goaltender and facing an undefeated team on the road, Penn hung in the game until the very end and reversed its normal trend of disappointing second halves.
“We definitely played a lot better in the second half, which is a good thing to build off of,” Schott said. “We just need to shore up some things on defense.”
The Red and Blue now look to get both their first home and Ivy League victories Saturday against Columbia.
“It’s always nice to get back home,” Kinn said. “We can only go up from here if we get a win on Saturday and start a streak in the Ivies.”