In one of the biggest shakeups since the 1994 Congressional elections, the Cornell men’s soccer team will bring in 12 freshmen and one transfer student to its 2005 team. The Red hopes its dramatic new look will bring a drastic change in results from last year’s 1-14-1, 0-6-1 Ivy, campaign — one of the worst seasons in program history.
After such a poor showing in 2004, head coach Bryan Scales knew changes needed to be made in the composition and chemistry of the team. Now, with an encouraging spring and promising preseason performance from his freshmen recruits, Scales feels confident in the direction the team is heading.
“I think there were a number of different areas that we addressed in the offseason. We made a lot of progress,” Scales said. “We have more depth now than we have ever had. I’m excited about what this group brings onto the field and off of the field.”
Of course, with the increased depth brought by this year’s large recruiting class comes a tradeoff in experience.
“We fill very comfortable with level of talent and the depth that we have with this freshman class,” Scales said. “We’re going to be a work in progress as these freshmen start to establish themselves and get comfortable with the speed and physical nature of college soccer. With all these guys I have full confidence that they’re going to be very good players for us.”
The most crucial position where this lack of experience may show is between the goalposts. Three freshmen goalkeepers, Matthew Bullough, Luca Cerretani, and Steven Lesser, will compete for the starting job left behind by David Mahoney ’05.
Mahoney, an anchor of stability in the net for the Red the past two years, is currently a backup goalie for the Chicago Fire and recently played against A.C. Milan in an exhibition game.
“We’re going to start a freshman goalkeeper this year, which can be scary and exciting in the same breath,” Scales said. “They’ll all have an opportunity to compete for the position.”
In a defense which has been the backbone of recent Cornell teams, Scales looks for freshmen Kevin Vieira, Mitch Ottinger, and Graeme Weber all to have an impact.
Moving up to the midfield, Scales has been impressed with the play of recruit Daniel McKallagat and expects him to mesh well with the returning midfielders.
“McKallagat has done extremely well,” he said. “Danny’s had a very good preseason so far. He’s got good feet, good decision making, and a good concentration level.”
Up front, Scales expects the freshmen duo of Dana Flanders and David Browning to add some firepower to an offense which scored seven goals all of last season.
“I think we have some dangerous guys,” Scales said. “Once we get the connections going and guys get comfortable playing with each other and knowing what their partners going to do up top we’ll be able to really get some good chances.”
The depth and quality of the Red’s incoming recruits has infused the team’s preseason practices with a high level of competition and a team chemistry that was absent at times for last year’s squad.
“Competition is going to make or break our team,” Scales said. “I really like this group. They’ll really work for each other … and that’s the mark of a good team.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer