After a brutal non-conference schedule for the Cornell men’s soccer team (0-7-2), the Red will look to start strong in Ivy League play as they open up against Penn (2-1-4) on Sunday at home.
Up to now, the Red have been outshot (130-71), outscored (22-7), given up more corner kicks (60-29) and have more penalties (11-9) than their opponents. Despite a frustrating start to the season for the Red, the team will look to take lessons from their non-conference play.
“We played some very good teams in a very short amount of time so these guys were put to the test mentally and physically,” said Assistant Coach Drew Hutchins. “While that sort of concentrated schedule is something we’ll do our best to avoid in the future, there’s no doubt that this group is stronger because of it.”
Hutchins believes that having a more spread out schedule, after a concentrated non-conference lineup, will benefit the team.
“The one game per week Ivy League schedule will give us more time to recover and prepare for opponents, but these guys can go into games knowing that they’re physically prepared for any challenge,” he said.
Even as the team is beginning a new chapter of the season with Ivy League play, the team expects to continually learn and grow.
“I expect to see guys looking to improve upon their last performance,” Hutchins said. “That’s our goal as a group — continuous improvement. This game is no different … in our eyes this is another opportunity to improve as individuals and as a group.”
While the Red has struggled on the offensive side of the ball, Penn has outshot (96-87), outscored (12-9), and have more corner kicks (40-29) than their opponents up to this point.
Hutchins recognized that Penn is a good team from both the coaching and player perspectives.
“Penn is an organized group — they’re well coached and they’ll be tough to break down,” he said. “They’ve also got some talented players going forward that we’ll have to keep track of.”
However, Hutchins pointed out that the team needs to prioritize on focusing on itself before focusing on Penn.
“Our main focus going into this weekend’s game will be on showcasing our strengths and hiding our weaknesses,” he said. “We’ll prep the guys on some of Penn’s tendencies and a few key players that need to be looked after, but the main focus is always on ourselves.”
The game will begin at 4 p.m. Sunday at Berman Field.