Coming off a disappointing 4-8-4 mark a year ago, the men’s soccer team looks to regain its form this season. With an experienced group of upperclassmen returning and a solid freshman class coming in, the team is ready to challenge for the Ivy League title.
“The good thing about our group right now is that we have some depth at almost each position,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “It’s been very competitive throughout preseason so far at each position to get on the field. We’ve got two, or sometimes three, guys battling for one spot, which is healthy for the program.”
After losing Doug Allan ’02 to graduation, the Red has several goaltender possibilities for the coming season. Junior transfer David Mahoney has been named the starter, while junior Peter Francis will back him up. Mahoney transferred from Brown, where he made four starts in two seasons. Two freshmen, Drew Lessard and Jason Reed, round out the goalkeeping corps.
“We’ll decide on a starter before our first game â€¦ and see what happens,” said Scales. “They’ve all been working extremely hard, and we’ll see where that leads us.”
Senior tri-captain Evan Wiener will be the leader in the back for a young defensive group. Sophomore Robert Russell is coming back after missing all of last season due to an injury. Several freshmen will also be looking to stake out starting positions in the coming season.
“We’ve got a number of different freshmen who we think can play back there [such as] Ryan Imamura [and] Brian Scruton,” explained Scales.
After being moved around a lot in 2002, star defenseman Scott Palguta will play in the midfield this year. The team will ask him to produce more offensive opportunities than he did in the backline. Joining him are the other two tri-captains, Ian Pilarski and Arturo Solis. Two other returning midfielders are juniors Peter Lynch and Kyle Jones.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who can play in the midfield right now,” said Scales. “I don’t expect we’ll have a lot of guys that [will have to] play 90 minutes with players on the bench who can come in and do a great job.”
Junior Steve Reuter returns to the offense after being the team’s second leading scorer in 2002. He will be counted on as a leader up front. Sophomore Andrew George, who led the team in scoring as a freshman, will play a much larger role himself. This is also an area where freshmen will have a chance to get involved.
“Nick [Leonard] is going to be a good player for our team [as he] learns the ropes,” commented Scales.
This summer, five members of the Red captured national championships with their club teams. Sophomores Sean Shannon and George helped their team, FC Delco Arsenal, capture its second straight USYSA National Championship. Pilarski, Palguta, and Reuter played for the Cape Cod Crusaders in the Premier Development League, which also won its second straight national title. Palguta and Pilarski were members of the 2002 squad as well.
The trio will attempt to parlay its successes of this summer into a breakout season back on the Hill. The experience gained will likely prove invaluable, as the PDL featured many of the top collegiate players in the country.
Cornell will take a game-by-game approach for the season and will not overlook any of the teams on its schedule.
“We want to win a championship and we want to get to the National Tournament, but we know it’s going to take 16 Cup finals to get there,” remarked Scales. “We’re not going to look ahead and we’re not going to worry about what’s happened in the past.”
Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach and Michael Pandolfini