Eleven games into the 2005 season, the men’s soccer team finds itself at a crossroads. So far, the Red has had a very up and down season, posting a 3-6-2 record thus far, including a 2-1 mark in Ivy League play. While its overall record is not all that impressive, its play in conference games has been much improved. Tomorrow, the team will once again be tested, when it hosts Ivy foe Brown (8-3-1, 3-0 Ivy) in a match scheduled to take place at 7 p.m. on Berman Field.
The team’s 2005 campaign began the same way recent seasons have ended – with the Red struggling to get that timely goal or hold onto that one-score lead in order to secure victories. However, as the young team began to mesh into a cohesive unit, its season took a turn for the better – improving from 0-3-1 to 3-4-2, including two Ivy League victories.
“We start three or four freshman a game, so it was tough in the beginning to get a good team flow,” said freshman goalie Steve Lesser. “But after that first month it really started coming together. We’ve bonded as a team and we are performing a lot better. It’s a tight group of guys now, and we all feel much more comfortable out on the field and as a team in the locker room.”
Since then, the Red has struggled, as it has lost its past two matches, including one to league rival Yale, 2-0. At this juncture, Cornell has five games left on its schedule, four of which are against Ivy League teams. In other words, the team will have a chance in the upcoming weeks to make its season into a memorable or forgettable one. The Red’s first task – beat the first-place Bears tomorrow.
Entering the weekend, Brown boasts a perfect 3-0 record in conference play, and, as of earlier this week, is now ranked No. 25 in the national poll. Brown leads the Ivies in almost every statistical category, on both sides of the ball. The team is scoring an average 2.0 goals per game, while allowing a miniscule 0.58. Taking note of that, Cornell is aware of what it needs to do come tomorrow night.
“It starts at the defensive end,” Lesser said. “Brown scores a lot of goals and we’re going to do our best to shut them down on offense. We will have to put the pressure on them by scoring ourselves, but I think a strong defensive effort on our part will give us a real good chance.”
On top of that, Brown leads the league in assists and points recorded. Needless to say, the Bears will be one of the toughest challenges for the Red this year. However, the strong and determined Cornell squad is not intimidated by Brown’s credentials.
“Like all Ivy League games, [Brown] is going to be real physical but we just have to grind it down until the end,” Lesser said. “We know how they play and they know how we play, so it’s going to be a battle. But the team as a whole is real confident and we feel like it’s going to be a great day [tomorrow].”
Archived article by Ben Kopelman
Sun Staff Writer