November 1, 2002

M. Soccer Shoots for First Conference Win

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The men’s soccer team returns to Ivy League action tomorrow night as it looks to snap a seven-game winless streak and capture its first league win of the season. Wednesday night’s 2-1 setback to Syracuse was the third straight for the Red (3-6-3, 0-3-1 Ivy), which has not recorded a victory since Sept. 24. With defending Ivy League champions Princeton (3-7-4, 1-2-1 Ivy) coming to town, the Red will have to be at its very best if it is to break out of its doldrums.

It has been a frustrating season to date for head coach Bryan Scales and his squad. Although the players have put in some impressive performances at times, the results have simply not gone their way.

“The reality is that we play a very difficult schedule,” said Scales. “We’re playing in one of the top leagues in the country. The games are so even and so tight that one or two games will dictate the way the results fall. Unfortunately, we haven’t had a break for whatever reason.”

While the current run of poor results has left Scales asking questions, the positive approach taken by his players has been of some consolation.

“I think the majority of the group has handled it extremely well and with a high degree of professionalism,” he observed. “Certainly, they’re disappointed that they haven’t been able to get any momentum going, but the work rate and the attitude of the group have been very good.”

Perhaps the most glaring problem for the Red this season has been finding the back of the net. In 12 games, Cornell has managed just 11 goals, with no player having scored more than two goals.

“What we need right now is some chances in front of the goal and players to finish off those chances,” Scales noted. “Defensively we’ve been pretty good. The problem is, we’ve been asking our back four to almost play the perfect game every time they come out.”

One player who could help is freshman forward Andrew George. In Wednesday’s defeat to Syracuse, George combined well with his makeshift strike partner Scott Palguta, bagging his second tally of the year.

“It’s great for Andrew because he’s still a freshman and learning the ropes,” said Scales. “But he’s worked very hard and he puts himself into good positions. I’m happy for him. I hope he feels as though he’s getting more comfortable in that position.”

Another area Scales will be looking to work on is his side’s ability to hang on towards the end of close games. The Red has been outscored in the second half of games by a 13-7 margin this year. Scales believes that inexperience is to blame for this statistic.

“We have somewhat of a young group,” he commented. “The tendency for young players is to take mental breaks at certain breaks at certain points: when they get tired, when the ball goes out of bounds, when the play has stopped. I think that’s a reason why we’ve given goals away at the end of games.”

Cornell’s opponents on Saturday are not without problems of their own. The Tigers may be coming off a 10-3 season which saw them top the Ivy League, but graduation has severely depleted this year’s roster. Indeed, Princeton heads to Berman Field smarting from a 7-1 drubbing at the hands of Rutgers.

“Princeton lost a good group of players last year and so did we,” observed Scales. “They’re kind of in the same boat because they’re a young team too. They’re gonna be very committed, they’re gonna put pressure on the ball. We’re very similar in that way. [Princeton coach] Jimmy Barlow and I see the game relatively in the same way. It’s a matter of passing and movement. Those are the cornerstones of both of our teams.”

Archived article by Soo Kim