September 20, 2004

Luckless Stretch Continues for Booters

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When a team is in a slump, any break is welcome. Unfortunately for the men’s soccer team (0-5-0), lady luck was nowhere to be found yesterday as the squad lost 3-0 to American (4-3-0) at Berman Field.

With two goals against itself and a stunning strike by American sophomore Garth Juckem, the Red dropped its fifth consecutive match this season in a game in which the scoreline did not tell the whole story.

The Red controlled much of the first 20 minutes, tallying the brunt of the game’s scoring opportunities. While freshman midfielder Jarid Siegel had an 8th minute shot go over the crossbar, a ball from sophomore Brian Scruton found the head of senior defender Scott Palguta, who’s attempt in the 16th minute was tipped away by American goalkeeper Thomas Myers.

The best Red chance of the half fell to senior forward Steve Reuter, who broke in on goal after a Scruton through ball. Reuter beat Myers with his shot across the face of goal, but his attempt was just wide left.

The face of the game changed in the 26th minute. Off an American corner kick, sophomore defender Dan Marks tried to clear the cross but inadvertently deflected the ball into his own net. In each game this season, Cornell has given up the first goal.

“I thought we were dominating for the first 15 minutes and then that goal kind of deflated us,” Scruton said. “If we had a little bit of luck on our side today, it might have gone the other way.”

Things got worse for the Red minutes later. The Red committed a foul outside of the penalty box and Juckem stepped up, curling a ball over Cornell’s wall and past senior goalkeeper David Mahoney to give the Eagles a 2-0 lead.

From then on, American seemed content to play off the counterattack as the Red created the majority of the chances, especially in the second half. In the 47th minute, off a Scruton corner kick, senior defender Peter Lynch rose and hit a header which went off the crossbar. While a Siegel shot in the 51st minute was saved by Myers, Reuter again had the best chance of the half. After combining with juniors Pape Seye and Kuda Wekwete, Reuter found space outside the penalty box and unleashed a shot which beat Myers, but clanged off the left post. Reuter led the team with four shots yesterday.

“In the second half, we were able to try to punch balls in behind them and keep them in their half of the field and I thought we did a pretty good job of it,” said men’s head coach Bryan Scales. “We just couldn’t connect and put one in the net. ”

The hapless Red had the majority of possession but could not find the critical pass or shot to bring them back into the game. And in the 82nd minute, Cornell’s fate was sealed.

With the Red pushed forward, the Eagles went on a counterattack as an American player crossed the ball into box. Lynch tried to head the ball clear, but his attempt sailed into Mahoney’s goal.

American had one final chance towards the end of the game as Eagle Blair Smith had a one-on-one opportunity against Mahoney, but his chip over the keeper went left of the goal.

“I thought we were obviously a little unlucky,” Scales said. “I’ve never ever been involved in a game where we’ve had two own goals scored on us. The positive side is that we did score two goals, we just put them in the wrong goal. We’re at the stage now where you have to almost laugh a little bit at it. It’s frustrating, the guys are in a slump and we have to find our way out of it, which we will.”

Although the Red has not earned a win this season, there is still optimism among the squad that this season can be turned around. Scruton said that the team is still focusing on their main goal of winning an Ivy League championship and will keep on working hard and staying positive to try and get results — especially with competition against conference rivals beginning a week from Saturday.

“It’s just one of those games where you shake your head after the game is over,” Scales said. “We need to get the soccer gods back on our side.”

The Red travels to Corvallis, Ore. to face Gonzaga and Oregon State this weekend for the Oregon State Classic. With injuries to regulars Tom Marks and Nick Leonard and Mahoney still bothered by a shoulder problem, Scales hopes that the team will be able to refocus for its next game.

“Basically, we need to put in three or four hard days of work and lift ourselves up again,” Lynch said. “We’re off to a tough start but we’ll come back and be ready for the weekend.”

Notes:

The Red outshot the Eagles 10-9 … Mahoney made four saves … Defenders Kyle Lynch and Dan Marks made their first starts of the season while midfielders Jorge Rodriguez and Siegel kept their places in the starting 11 after the team’s 2-1 loss to Fairfield last Wednesday … Scruton, who normally plays in midfield, started at right back yesterday … The Red is now 1-1-0 against the Eagles — their last encounter was on Sept. 27, 2003 when a Scott Palguta goal gave the Red a 1-0 win at Washington D.C.

Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor