jerelBlades

Penn winger Jerel Blades' goal wasn't enough as the Quakers settled for a draw in their conference opener.  

Photo: Ananya Chandra

Overtime was not enough to decide Penn men's soccer's Ivy League opener against Cornell, as the match finished in a 1-1 draw.  

Despite the season's early woes, the Quakers (1-6-1, 0-0-1 Ivy) entered the competition with energy and confidence. However, Penn's early dominance was met by an offensive onslaught by Cornell in the second half and overtime.

"The result was probably a fair one," Penn coach Rudy Fuller said after the game. 

The Quakers pressured the Big Red (4-3-2, 0-0-1) throughout the first half, outshooting them five to three in the period. Their lone goal in the match came in the 18th minute off the foot of junior forward Jerel Blades, who capitalized on a put-back opportunity to give Penn the early 1-0 advantage.  

Fuller praised his team's first half execution. 

"We just wanted to come out with some energy and enthusiasm and really try to get the upper hand in the game, which I think we did."   

The Quakers struggled to maintain their level of play throughout the match as Cornell stormed back after the break. The Big Red were constantly in Penn's defensive half and eventually evened the score on a corner kick in the 77th minute, finished by Cornell's Caleb McAuslan.  

Multiple shots narrowly missed the target, as the Quakers looked to convert the game's deciding goal. Both sophomore midfielder Dami Omitaomu and junior captain Gavin Barger had shots rejected by the crossbar. 

"We were disappointed not to get that second goal in the first half that would've probably given us the three points," Fuller said. "But, we felt good about it at half; credit to Cornell, they came out in the second half and responded with a lot of energy."  

The match served the Quakers well, as the team's youngsters got their first taste of Ivy League play in 2017 and held strong against a talented Cornell squad. The defense stood tall in front of Etan Mabourakh, the Quakers' junior goalkeeper, who combatted Cornell's offensive barrage, posting six saves and allowing only one goal.

"Ivy League games are battles and they're difficult," Fuller said. "It was definitely a welcome to the Ivy League experience to our first-year players."

One interesting storyline to come out of the match was the introduction of the Touche brothers to the Ivy League — the twins faced off against each other, Alex for Penn and Charles for Cornell. Each got considerable minutes, though neither was able to influence the game enough to earn bragging rights over the other. 

Fuller still sees room for improvement in his team and emphasized the importance of grinding through the difficult moments to stay in command of games.  

"I would've liked to see us continue to play with the same energy and confidence that we did in the first half...we want to be better when we have the lead, and we want to put teams away when we have the opportunity." 

With the draw, Penn will start its Ivy League campaign tied for fourth in the league, alongside Cornell. 

The team will take the road to play an out-of-conference match against the University of Delaware on Wednesday, where the Quakers will look earn a win and gain enough momentum to rise through the Ivy League standings.

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