Over the past summer, senior forward Steve Reuter and teammate Scott Palguta spent a few days training with the Chicago Fire of the MLS. Reuter, who described those days as “the best soccer experience of my life,” said that many of the Fire players, including U.S. international midfielder Chris Armas and defender Evan Whitfield, showed the young players around and treated them well.
The pleasantries stopped on the field though, as Fire players shouted a variety of instructions to Reuter — including telling him to get back on defense and track his man. But, after drills were over, players took Reuter aside and gave the Algonquin, Ill. native advice which could help progress his game.
“When you get to that level, it’s not necessarily technical ability because everybody’s really good with the ball, everyone’s really athletic,” Reuter said. “It’s about mental [focus] and staying tuned into the game the whole time … I think that’s one of my weaknesses, I tend to float out of the game sometimes … Those guys were really on me about it.”
While the forward has been committed over the past months to improving his mental game, one quality which Reuter certainly does not lack is a strong work ethic — an aspect which is not lost on Palguta and his teammates.
“He’s a hard-working kid, and everything he does is all out,” Palguta said. “Whatever he’s doing, [he’s] 100 percent committed.”
Reuter, who possessed the team lead in career points with 21 (eight goals and five assists) at the beginning of this season, has started in each of the Red’s (1-7-0, 0-1-0 Ivy) eight games during the 2004 campaign. Although the senior has not recorded a point this season, Reuter is second on the team in shots with 10 and has started to pick up his game — putting in a sparkling performance during last Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Penn.
“I thought he had his best game of the year on Saturday night against Penn,” said head coach Bryan Scales, who noted the forward’s all-around effort. “He knows what needs to be done in these games and he can provide a great example for the guys out there.”
Over the past four years, Scales said that the competitive and occasionally short-tempered Reuter has learned from his 55 college games to use strong dribbling and technical abilities to find space and connect with teammates. Scales has also employed Reuter in a variety of attacking positions to utilize his abilities — ranging from playing on the wing in the midfield to slotting in as a center forward.
While Reuter noted that the stringent training program at Cornell has made him a more confident player, he said that the main change he has experienced is his maturation as a person. From freshman year to upcoming graduation, Reuter said that Scales — a person he considers “a father figure” — has taken each player in this year’s senior class under his wing.
“Steve has certainly exerted his form of leadership on the team and he’s at his best when he’s leading by example,” Scales said. “We have enough guys who will shout, bark and yell, but Steve really is effective when he lets his feet and work rate do the talking.”
This year, while Reuter and the team have kept their main goal of winning an Ivy League title, the forward has also taken the task of showing younger players what Cornell soccer means to him and the rest of the senior class. Labeling the program as a “family,” Reuter’s hard work ethic has rubbed off on the team’s youngest players.
“Steve’s a really technical player, he has leadership on the field and he encourages us to work harder in training,” said freshman forward Noah Mencia, who played alongside Reuter during parts of last Saturday’s game against Penn. “He keeps the team morale up and positive and he’s always out to work his hardest.”
Although the Red played well enough to win last Saturday, its inability to finish chances proved to be a thorn its side. Yet, the Red has put in solid performances over the past few weeks and Reuter noted that the team has increased its training regimen and work ethic at practices and in games. With strong performances by younger players, Reuter expects a change of fate — starting this Saturday against Harvard.
“I think things are starting to spin in our favor a little bit,” Reuter said. “Everyone’s just shown more of a commitment and I think it’s really only a matter of time before the ball starts bouncing our way.”
Reuter spent last semester abroad in Spain. Not only was he exposed to an entirely different culture than that of Ithaca, he also was able to nourish his appetite for soccer — with the game’s huge popularity throughout Europe. One player he particularly admired was forward Raul, the captain of one of the most prestigious clubs in the world, Real Madrid. Reuter noted Raul’s substantial responsibility of keeping all of the players and their personalities in check while scoring goals and working hard to properly represent his team.
While the Red forward and Raul are on very different spheres of the soccer world, one of Reuter’s main goals in his final year is similar to that of the Spanish star — something that this particularly hard-working player will likely acheive.
“In general, before my career is over here, I want to show some of the younger guys just how important it is to put on that jersey everyday … and work as hard as you can. I guess that’s what I’m trying to bring to the team,” Reuter said.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor