October 3, 2003

M. Soccer Starts Ivy Season

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Men’s soccer head coach Bryan Scales has watched his team lose to the defending Ivy League champion Penn (2-2-2, 0-0-0 Ivy) in each of the past two years. However, when the Red (3-3-0, 0-0-0) travels to Philadelphia to play the Quakers tomorrow, Scales doesn’t plan on letting them make it a three-peat.

“For these Ivy League games you can throw the records out the window,” said Scales. “These teams are so close.”

Cornell is coming off of a very close win over Colgate on Tuesday. So far, this season has been up and down for the Red, which opened with a 4-1 win, only to lose its next three matches. The Red has won its last two games, but it seems that the team has yet to find its stride.

“I can’t really say we played great against Colgate,” said Scales, when asked about his team’s confidence going into this first Ivy League matchup of the season. “We’ve had two shutouts this season, which is a good thing, [and] we definitely feel pretty confident going in.”

The Red will have its work cut out for it with the Quakers. Despite the loss of several key players from last year’s senior class, Penn still has a number of all-around threats that the Red will have to systematically neutralize.

The most obvious problem for Cornell will be Penn’s goalie, Ivy League Player of the Year and All-America senior Matt Haefner. Haefner managed to break several of Penn’s records last year, including lowest GAA in a season (0.45), shutouts in a season (10), save percentage in a season (.923), and minutes played in a season (1,598). He will be a major problem for the Red, which has relied heavily on offensive ability in several games this season.

Penn junior forward Stephen Kroculick will lead the Quakers’ offense. Kroculick was first on the team in goals with four last season, and was second in points with eight. He was also Penn’s offensive player of the year.

Still, while Scales and his team are mindful of the threats, they are also looking to turn the tables this year.

“There are a couple of guys that help their team go,” explained Scales, “but at the end of the day, we’re going to try to make Penn deal with what we do.”

The fact of the matter is that the Red has a lot more to worry about than just the Quakers right now. This upcoming match will be the first of three straight Ivy League games for Cornell. In addition, considering that this game is against the defending Ivy champ, it may very well set the tone for the rest of Cornell’s conference matchups.

“Everyone’s soul is really in these Ivy games,” said Scales. “But for us, all we’re thinking about is the Penn game right now.”

Archived article by Michael Pandolfini