After securing its first win of the season, the men’s soccer team will make the trek to Spartanburg, S.C., to compete in the Wofford/Adidas Invitational this weekend. The Red will take on Wofford tonight at 6 p.m. and then face Furman for a Sunday afternoon match scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. These two games are the final set before the team opens up its Ivy League play next weekend.
After struggling through the opening two weeks of the season, emerging winless from its first four matches, the Red secured its first victory when it shut down and shutout a strong Hartford team, 2-0, last Sunday. Since the end of last season, the team has played with a bit of a chip on its shoulder, knowing that its record does not reflect its ability and effort. The boys in red are confident, however, that they can use last weekend’s win as a boost for the rest of the season.
“As you can imagine, our team morale is extremely high after getting that first win under our belt,” said junior captain Brian Scruton. “A certain degree of pressure has been lifted from our shoulders. We’ve really been playing good soccer, so it has been great to have a full week to let that first win really sink in.”
However, this weekend will by no means be a walk in the park. Tonight, the Red will face off against a Wofford team that has played consistently well thus far this year. The Terriers (3-1-1) are a threat at both ends of the field, averaging two goals per game while only allowing one per contest. The team is undefeated at home, boasting a perfect 3-0 record when playing in Spartanburg. In its most recent contest, the Terriers edged past North Florida, 3-2, continuing its strong play and adding to its strong record at home. More importantly, however, is the way in which the Terriers won – they rallied back from a 2-0 deficit in the second half, scoring three goals within the last 10 minutes of the match. The team will be looking to use the momentum gathered from this come-from-behind win when it takes on the Red.
“Wofford has had a good year so far so we have to lookout for them,” Scruton said. “But the competition we’ve faced has been higher than the teams they’ve played, so we are confident that regardless of their record, we can go in and get a win.”
After getting tomorrow off, the Red will regroup as it faces another challenging opponent in Furman. The Paladins (0-3-4) have struggled at times this year, but they have been competitive in every game they have played, ending four of their first seven matches in a tie. On top of this, all three losses suffered have been by a single goal – one of which came in overtime. Last week, the Paladins faced Harvard in a match that ended in a 1-1 deadlock – a score that should prove to the Red, a team that has struggled against Harvard in recent past, that the Paladins’ lackluster record is not indicative of its actual ability. But at this point, the Red has learned never to take an opponent lightly, regardless of what its record might imply.
“[Furman] has had a tough schedule to this point, so [its] record can be deceiving,” Scruton said. “But I think if we can come in and play smart and play our game, we will have a good chance at coming away with a win. The team is real confident coming in here.”
With so many players contributing to each and every game, the Red sees itself as a team with a lot of options at a number of positions. In fact, the team’s depth is one of its biggest assets, and should prove to be extremely beneficial this weekend.
“Our depth helps us out a lot, especially when we have two games in a three days,” Scruton said. “I’d say our depth is what distinguishes us from some other teams we’ve played so far, and I’m real glad to say it’s one of our strong points. Right now, we’re all looking forward to this trip and this weekend’s two winnable games.”
Archived article by Ben Kopelman
Sun Staff Writer