When the men’s soccer team (1-8-0, 0-2-0 Ivy) last faced Yale (2-8-0, 1-1-0 Ivy) in 2003, it was on a four-game unbeaten streak going into New Haven, seeking to solidify its status as a contender against the conference powerhouse Bulldogs.
Similarly, this year’s match at Berman Field tomorrow evening against its Ivy rival could prove to be one of the most important games in the 2004 squad’s season. However, in comparison to last year’s auspicious start, the Red is struggling this year, dropping its first two conference games against Penn and Harvard.
“Every game is a must-win for us at this stage,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We will just continue to look at these games and get ready for them. Yale’s a very good team, they’ve struggled a little bit this year too, but all the records go out the window [tomorrow].”
The Red will be looking to start quickly against the Bulldogs — especially after its 4-0 loss to Harvard last weekend. Scales, who said that the team seemed to lack a competitive edge in Boston, most notably in the first half, said that his team needs to make big plays both on attack and defense to earn the win.
“We have to make sure that when we come to play and compete, that we bring our A-game as far as work rate, competitiveness [and] concentration. If we do that like we did against Penn, we’ll do well and we’ll put together a good performance,” Scales said.
While the Red’s defense has been strong for much of the season, the team has found it difficult to score — finding the back of the net just four times in nine games.
Yale’s offense however, has also struggled to score goals this season, with opponents earning four shutouts against them this year. But Scales knows that players such as senior Andrew Dealy — an individual Scales acknowledges as the best midfielder in the conference — are always major threats in the attacking third. In addition, one of Yale’s wins came in a 1-0 victory against the Crimson, although Harvard was missing Anthony Tornaritis — a forward who scored twice against the Red last weekend.
In the teams’ encounter last season, while Yale outshot the Red 19-2, one of Cornell’s attempts on goal — a strike by junior midfielder Andrew George — gave the visiting team its first win in New Haven since 1975.
Scales expects another close, physical Ivy League encounter and said that all it takes is one or two game breaking moments to decide the game.
“These games hang in the balance for so long and the game is waiting for someone to take it and influence how the result goes,” Scales said. “It’s going to take — as it does in any game — players stepping up to make big plays.”
Although the Red was riding high last year after the team’s win against the Bulldogs, it proved to be its last victory of the year, as the squad went winless in its last seven games. But similar to last year’s negative change of fortunes, Scales said that things can change quickly in the Ivy League. Last weekend, Brown — a team that was unbeaten in the league since Nov. 16, 2002 — was finally defeated by Princeton 3-2. With the league’s unpredictability and parity, a potential Red turnaround is definitely not out of the question. A turnaround, Scales hopes, which will start tomorrow night.
“It’s our job as coaches to prepare for each and every game and all the other outside stuff about previous games or the games coming down the road, they have no bearing on the actual performance that you put in the next game,”
Scales said. “While it’s good to get momentum going and get a couple of wins under your belt, you have to start somewhere. For us, [tomorrow] night will be the chance for us to start our own streak.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor