After a modest start to last year’s season, the men’s soccer team pieced together a six-game unbeaten streak to put itself in contention for a spot in the NCAA tournament. Despite its late success and No. 22 national ranking, the selection committee passed on the team. Throughout the long offseason, head coach Bryan Scales and company have had the chance to use the disappointment as motivation for this year’s campaign.
Cornell will face perhaps its most formidable challenge in its opening match as it seeks early success. No. 5 Notre Dame will play host to the Red tonight in what promises to be a mightily contested game.
The Irish have experienced a national resurgence since highly regarded Bobby Clark assumed the reins of the program. After enjoying great success at Stanford and Dartmouth, Clark has engineered a solid recruiting effort that makes Notre Dame one of the strongest teams in the country.
“They have lots of team speed and very high work rate,” Scales said of the Irish. “They are one of those teams that is very difficult to play against.”
The ability to generate offense remains one of the largest question marks surrounding the Red, which should have its hands full with the swarming, high-pressure defense that the Irish employ.
Cornell’s scoring potential was greatly weakened by the graduation of Ted Papadopoulos ’02. Scales remains confident that a highly touted recruiting class, coupled with his returnees, will provide a capable scoring punch. He called this year’s squad one of the deepest in recent memory.
“I would put our group up against anyone,” he said.
Scales expects Notre Dame midfielder Chad Riley to be particularly difficult to contain. Riley is one of the most prolific scorers on the Irish roster.
Cornell will face Bradley in its second game of the three-day Mike Berticelli Memorial tournament.
The Braves are one of the up-and-coming programs in the Midwest. They enter tomorrow’s contest with an unblemished 3-0-1 mark and feature highly touted All-American candidate Hamid Mehreiosovei.
Scales is likely to start at least two of his freshmen this weekend. Andrew George and Brian Pink headline a talent-laden rookie class. George will start at the forward position, while Pink will get the call in the backfield.
Anchoring Cornell’s stingy defense is likely All-American senior Doug Allan. Allan was spectacular for the Red last season and is expected to be an integral part of the Cornell efforts to ascend the national rankings this year.
After a long preseason, Scales says his troops are ready to commence their campaign.
“They are ready to play a game now. They are tired of kicking each other.”
Archived article by Gary Schueller