A year ago, with a record of 1-3-0, the men’s soccer team played a talented, high-scoring squad from American University. The match was the start of a five-game unbeaten streak for the Red, as then junior Scott Palguta converted a penalty kick to give Cornell a 1-0 victory. Now, the Red hope to duplicate some of last year’s magic this Sunday, when it hosts the Eagles at 2 p.m. on Berman Field.
“American is a team that has been very good over the last couple of years,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “Last year’s win was a big win for us and it was the start of that five-game unbeaten streak — Now’s a good time for that to happen.”
Cornell is still looking for its first win of the season, with a record of 0-4-0 so far. Its most recent defeat came last Wednesday at the hands of Fairfield University. In the first half, the Red played some of its best soccer of the year, out-shooting the Stags 6-1. However, Fairfield countered in the second half with high-pressure play that allowed it to capitalize on errors by Cornell and take the game 2-1.
“We had a bunch of freshmen in the lineup and a bunch of new guys and it was sharp. It was very sharp,” Scales said. “That makes losing that game all the more difficult, but it also gives you a good indication of how much progress we’ve made.”
Among the freshmen who have stepped up early this season for the Red has been Jarid Siegel, who was the source for Cornell’s only goal against Fairfield.
“Siegel did very well in the middle of the midfield against Fairfield,” Scales said. “He’s a tough kid, good feet, athletic, who can really buzz around the midfield and help us in a number of different spots.”
The Eagles have a record of 3-3-0 this season. An aggressive team offensively, American has out-shot all but one of its opponents this year, averaging close to double the shots of its opponents in a game.
“They’re going to be a hardworking team, they’re going to put pressure on us and they’re going to try and score goals,” Scales said.
Cornell will have to keep an especially close eye on Eagle’s midfielder Shawn Kuykendall. Familiar to some of the Red from summer leagues, Kuykendall is the known playmaker of American’s offense and has been involved in nearly half of the Eagle’s goals this year.
The Red must also deal with ongoing injuries that have forced it to continually rearrange its lineup. The Fairfield game had five of Cornell’s starters sitting out with injuries that ranged from bulging discs, to sprained ankles, to hurt shoulders. Senior goalkeeper David Mahoney has been battling a recurring shoulder injury, but will make a welcomed return to the net on Sunday.
“This is why you have more than 11 guys on your team,” Scales said. “There’s no use complaining about it; you just have to battle on and deal with it.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer