he men’s soccer team can now breathe a collective sigh of relief. Coming into Saturday’s game against Ivy League rival Princeton, Cornell had out-shot its opponents in each of its last five games by a combined margin of 61-28, yet still only had only one win to show for its efforts.
The Red (3-8-3, 2-3-1 Ivy) finally found a way to put it all together against the Tigers (6-7-3, 1-4-1), however, as the squad blanked Princeton, 2-0, to move into fifth in the Ivy League standings with just one game remaining in its 2006 campaign.
[img_assist|nid=19308|title=Leaps and bounds|desc=Freshman Matt Bouraee (12) scored the game-winner over Princeton on Saturday. (Kuan-Wei Chen / Sun Staff)|link=popup|align=right|width=78|height=100]
“The match looked a lot like our last couple of games as we generated a lot of scoring opportunities,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “The big difference was that we got two goals and three [Ivy League standings] points in the bag. We were very happy with our performance.”
The two teams played evenly for most of the first half until the Red jumped out to a 1-0 lead only a couple of minutes before halftime. Senior co-captain Dan Marks attempted a header off of a corner kick in the box, which deflected off freshman forward Matt Bouraee past Tiger goalkeeper Justin Oppenheimer for the score.
After starting the year out slowly, Bouraee has become Cornell’s most consistent offensive weapon up front. He is tied for the team lead in goals (2), points (4) and is second in shots (24).
“Matt is a very dangerous player who has the opportunity to be an impact player for us for a long time,” Scales said.
The Red wasted no time extending its lead to two just 1:54 after halftime when senior Brian Scruton was pulled down in the Princeton box, leading to a penalty kick by junior Brian Kuritzky. Kuritzky — who fired a game-high six shots for Cornell — buried it home to notch his first goal on the season and give the Red its first two-goal lead of the year.
“We finally got a couple of breaks this game with a P.K. and a deflected goal,” Scales said. “The soccer gods were smiling on us today.”
Cornell’s stingy defense — which ranks third in the Ivy League with 14 goals allowed — knew exactly what to do from there, as it shut down the Tiger attack to notch its third shutout of the season. The shutout was preserved in large part due to the effort of sophomore goalkeeper Luca Cerretani, who stopped all four of Princeton’s second-half shots, to reduce his goals against average to a miniscule 0.94 per game. According to Scales, however, the unit that deserved the most of the credit for the win was the midfield.
“The game was won by our midfielders: [sophomores] Joe Yonga and Dan McKallagat, and [junior] Aaron Viera,” he said. “They were dangerous moving forward with the ball, made sharp passes and were aggressive in winning the ball back when they didn’t have it. As a result, we had the ball in more dangerous places then they did throughout the game.”
The Red was led offensively by Kuritzky and Bouraee, who combined for 10 shots, five shots on goal and two scores. Oppenheimer had four saves in a losing effort.
Cornell will play in its season finale at Berman Field next Saturday against Dartmouth, with a chance to move into the upper half of the Ivy League standings on the line.
“This is the last chance we get to play with each other this year,” Scales said. “I know we will put in an effort accordingly.”