PHILADELPHIA - Cornell rode tough defense and a swift counterattack to a 2-1 upset of the No. 18 University of Pennsylvania men's soccer team Saturday night at Rhodes Field in the Ivy League opener for both teams.
Cornell (2-4-2, 1-0 Ivy) won for just the second time this season while the Quakers (6-2-0, 0-1 Ivy) dropped their first home game of the year in front of a raucous, near-capacity crowd on hand for the first-ever night game at Rhodes Field.
Allof the scoring came at a frantic pace in the middle part of the game. Freshman midfielder Alex Grendi nearly put Penn on the board in the 32nd minute when he caught a rebound from junior forward Ryan Tracy's shot and put it off the right post. Cornell charged back to the other end, and senior forward Pape Saye put the Big Red on the board first in the 38th minute when he slotted a ball across the face of the net past junior goalkeeper Dan Cepero.
Penn, however, equalized just two minutes later when senior defender Erik Violante converted a penalty kick following sophomore Derek Hobson being taken down in the box.
Cornell rushed out in the second half, and senior midfielder Kuda Wekwete shot a laser from 20 yards out to give the Big Red the go-ahead goal only 44 seconds into the half.
The Quakers were never able to get the tying goal despite outshooting Cornell 7-3 in the half.
Cepero made four saves in taking the loss, just his second of the year. Freshman Steve Lesser made five saves in getting the win.
"They came out with a lot of intensity," said Head Coach Rudy Fuller. "They did very well winning the aerial battles, and that was the difference."
Fuller was also grateful for the support of the fans andone of the largest crowds ever at Rhodes Field. "It was the best atmosphere in my eight years at Penn," he said. "I want to thank everybody who came out."
Penn returns to Ivy League play next Saturday when it travels to Columbia for a 2:30 p.m. kick-off.
Written by Tim Flynn, athletic communications assistant