When sophomore forward Nick Leonard scores a goal, one of his celebration rituals is to shape his hands in a ‘U’ — a practice he and a few club soccer teammates started during their high school years to honor his hometown of Eugene, Ore.
While the forward scored the Red”s lone goal in its 2-1 loss to Syracuse on Wednesday, Leonard and his teammates hope to see a few more ‘U”s’ turn into their first ‘W’ tomorrow night when the Red travels to Hamilton and battles Colgate (1-1-0).
Although the men”s soccer team (0-2-0) has dropped its first two games of this year”s campaign in a couple of closely fought encounters, they know that there is a lot of season left and there”s no reason to worry too much — at least not yet.
‘I don”t think we”re panicking, but I think there”s a sense of urgency that we need to get a victory,’ Leonard said. ‘We”re playing well enough to win, [but] we just need to sustain our control of the game over 90 minutes.’
In the teams” encounter last season, a second half goal by junior midfielder Pape Seye gave the Red a 1-0 victory. In addition, the Red has won its last five encounters against the Raiders, dating back to 1998.
However, the score-line of last year”s game at Berman Field only tells a small piece of the story. According to head coach Bryan Scales, the Red controlled the game in the first half — but Colgate dominated the second interval, and were just unable to find the back of the net. ‘I expect Colgate to come out flying,’ Scales said. ‘It”ll be a great test of our guys” ability to concentrate under pressure against a good team. We always have good games against Colgate; they”re always one-goal games. We”re going to really [need] the right mentality when we step on the field on Saturday night.’
In the loss to Syracuse, the Red was able to recover from an early Orange goal and notch the equalizer, before falling in the second half to the eventual game winner. In the Red”s first game of the season against Lehigh last Friday, they also scored after falling behind by a goal. However, the Red fell on a late goal again — this time in double overtime.
In reference to the Syracuse game, Scales said that the team needs to keep better possession, as the Red gave up the ball in some dangerous areas. However, Scales added that this is an issue that can only be rectified through playing more games and getting more familiar with each other.
‘There”s not really any magic pill you could take to all of a sudden make you take care of the ball,’ he said. ‘We have two days to get ready for Colgate and part of that will be recovery for some of the players who played in this game against Syracuse who may have injuries … we know that there”s going to be games when we”re sloppy and these are the games you just have to grind it out and find a way to win.’
Additionally, the Red will look to start out of the gate quicker and prevent opposing teams from scoring early. In both their games this season, Cornell gave up a goal within the first ten minutes. Scales said that the team will need to concentrate and battle not only for an equalizer if the team falls behind, but also for go-ahead goals if they do tie the game.
Colgate has played two games, losing 3-0 to Buffalo before bouncing back last Saturday to defeat Fordham, 1-0. The Red will have to look out for Raider midfielder Reed Grimes, who scored in Fordham”s win, and sophomore goalkeeper Doug Litvack, who earned the shutout with six saves in the victory. Tomorrow”s game also marks Colgate”s alumni soccer weekend and Scales expects the crowd to be loud and raucous.
A bright spot for the Red on Wednesday night was Leonard, who scored his first goal of the season. According to Scales, Leonard — who tied for the team lead in goals last season with three — currently is struggling with a back injury. However, with Scales anticipating that there will not be many lineup changes this weekend, he expects Leonard to lead the line in the Red”s attack against the Raiders.
‘There”s always a lot of weight on your shoulders, especially as a returning forward,’ Leonard said. ‘It”s nice to get the first one and hopefully the others will come.’
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor