It was a night of firsts.
Penn men’s soccer defeated Cornell in their first Ivy League game of the year. This is the first time that the current senior class was able to keep the Big Red to regulation time, with a double-overtime win, tie, and loss in the past three competitions.
It is also the first time the Quakers (4-3-1, 1-0 Ivy) have scored more than two goals in a game since a 3-2 overtime win over Monmouth in August 2018, as well as the most combined goals in a game since that contest as well.
The Big Red (5-3, 0-1) found themselves behind early when sophomore midfielder Ben Stitz scored the first goal of his career, putting the Quakers in the fifth minute off of an assist from junior forward Jake Kohlbrenner. The sophomore shot past his defender over the outstretched reach of Cornell goalie Ryan Shellow.
Cornell junior Vardhin Manoj responded just five minutes later off of a deflection from goalie sophomore Dane Jacomen to tie the game at 1-1.
Senior captain Brandon Bartel catalyzed the team's second goal through a footrace with his defender into the Big Red’s half of the field. He was then fouled from behind, setting up a free kick.
Off of the routine set piece into the box, a foul was called on a Cornell defender for a handball. Despite it being his first penalty, Bartel calmly put the ball past Shellow into the back of the net.
“[Scoring] felt good, [my first goal] took a little bit longer than I’d wanted,” Bartel said. “[It] Finally came, it was in a big game, which is always nice, but it only came because of how the team started.”
Both Cornell and Penn had slow breaks the rest of the half, but no opportunities that amounted to a finish.
Penn strung together a clean series, beginning with a throw-in from junior defender RC Williams to the feet to Stitz. The midfielder was able to beat his defender to pass to junior midfielder Joey Bhangdia, giving him just enough angle to place the ball into the far corner of Cornell’s net.
In the 69th minute of play, Cornell’s Charles Touche, twin brother of Penn’s junior captain Alex Touche, was given a yellow card. The play was followed by friendly cheers (or jeers) to either, or both, of the brothers.
Cornell ramped up the energy, frantic to close the gap. The team capitalized after a scrum in the box, putting the ball past Jacomen to make the score 3-2.
“I would’ve loved to not concede the second goal, but as soon as we did, everyone was on the same page to get back in and defend hard for the last ten minutes,” Bartel said.
Touche broke up a two-on-one attack set by Cornell to force a shot wide. The play was followed by freshman Kai Lammers making another defensive play to clear the ball. For the Quakers, good things came in threes, as senior center back Casey Barone was able to take the ball off of a Cornell attacker before he got a clear aim at the goal.
“We cleaned up a lot of the details, and us four having each other’s back was the biggest thing,” Barone said of the defensive line.
Jacomen was the last man between Cornell and the net, and made the last defensive stop of the game as well.
In the last seconds of play, a final Big Red offensive effort set up a dangerous run, but the ball was controlled by the sophomore.
“Obviously a really hard-fought game, first Ivy League game of the year. Everyone was up for it,” Barone said. “It’s a big seven-game tournament for us, and to be off to a good start feels amazing.”
“The last two years haven’t really started off this way for us, so it’s a good foot to start off on,” Bartel added.
Penn will seek to continue its Ivy League momentum when the team faces Columbia in New York on Sunday.
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