It is perhaps an indication of how the men’s soccer team’s season has gone that head coach Bryan Scales and his side came away from Hartwick last night relieved rather than disappointed by the 1-1 score. With one game left in the 2002 season, a team that was expected to challenge for league supremacy is sitting at the bottom of the division with a 1-4-1 record. Against Columbia (9-5-1, 3-2-1 Ivy) tomorrow, the Red (4-7-4, 1-4-1) will look to end its year on a high note and avoid picking up the league’s wooden spoon.
After last weekend’s 7-1 debacle against Dartmouth at Berman Field, the Red’s coaching staff headed into the Hartwick game looking for some kind of reaction from the players. While the three points once again evaded the Red, Scales was generally satisfied with the effort put in by his side in overcoming a 1-0 deficit to earn the tie.
“For me, after a result like that on Saturday night, you want to see some signs of life for the next game,” he said. “To go to Hartwick and get a result is difficult. We were down 1-0 with 20 minutes left, and pushed up and tried to press the game and get an equalizer, which we eventually did. In overtime, we had some chances to win it, but we just couldn’t finish it off. I gotta give full credit to the guys for coming back on a quagmire of a pitch and getting a result. It was a point earned rather than two points lost.”
The result will help to ease some of the hurt inflicted by a Dartmouth side that converted its chances with stunning efficiency. Junior goalie Nate Dunlap, who had impressed in a win over Princeton a week earlier, had the unenviable task of having to pick the ball out of his net on five different occasions, before making way for sophomore Peter Francis. Against Hartwick, Dunlap once again showed why he has recently become Scales’ first choice between the posts.
“Last night, he saved a couple breakaways, made a terrific save off a shot that was going in the lower corner that he got a fingertip to, and generally he was the man on the spot when we needed him to be,” admitted Scales.
After playing 110 minutes of soccer against Hartwick including the two overtime periods, it remains to be seen how fresh the players will be come tomorrow. Indeed, Scales will take a precaution by giving a lighter training session for those players who featured in the Hartwick contest.
“Fatigue could be an issue, but it’s the last game of the season, so they gotta put it all out there,” observed Scales.
Although the Red heads to Columbia with little more to play for than pride, Scales is likely to stay with his established players in a bid to end the year in winning fashion.
“We’re going after the game. It’s not a case where we’re gonna be too sentimental about playing time. We’re going with our best group, we’re going there for the win and to be honest, we want to make sure we finish the season above the basement in the Ivy League.”
For Scales and many players on this talented roster, the 2002 campaign simply did not follow the blueprint that was drawn up in the preseason. When the curtain falls on the soccer season on Saturday, Scales and his staff will return to the drawing board to examine how a promising season turned sour, but for the moment the Red’s coach had the following to offer:
“With hindsight, you can look back and see results against Penn early on, against Fairfield, or the two points lost at Harvard. With those disappointments or the lack of success, the guys start to question themselves, and confidence starts to become an issue. I think we have a good team, for a variety of reasons as the season went along, we just couldn’t get the momentum going.”
Archived article by Kristen Haunss