“I told [head coach Bryan] Scales, whenever he needs help in goalkeeper — I’m fifth string maybe,” Scruton joked.
“If guys get injured, he could probably fill in there if he had to,” Scales quipped.
Since the Red has many extremely capable netminders, barring disaster, Scruton will probably not have to put on the goalie shirt and gloves. But that leaves Scruton to play the other 10 positions on the field and the Fayetteville, N.Y. native’s versatility gives Scales a variety of options when picking his starting lineup.
“You could plug him in almost anywhere on the team. He can play in the back, he can play in the midfield, he could play up top,” Scales said.
Although playing different positions from game to game could be uncomfortable for some, Scruton, who has earned two assists this year, has become used to being a soccer utilityman of sorts. During his high school freshman year, Scruton played in defense. In his sophomore and junior seasons, he started as a midfielder, while as a senior, he played up front.
“Ever since I’ve grown up, I played with coaches that needed me to play in different spots and it’s good because it helps me understand the game a little bit better and what other players need to do on the field,” Scruton said. “But, I feel like whatever I could do for the team, I understand each position and wherever coach needs me, I’m more than happy to play there.” Last year, Scruton appeared in 15 games and experienced the intense and fast-paced nature of Ivy League matches. Although this season has been difficult, Scruton said that he knows what to expect in these conference clashes and is excited about many of the younger players who have stepped up.
Scruton said he has also learned much from this year’s graduating class — a group which includes tri-captains David Mahoney, Scott Palguta and Peter Lynch, as well as Steve Reuter and Sean Mendy.
“With all those guys, you have to look up to them,” Scruton said. “All of them provide some sort of input into the team [and] you look to them and all of their strengths.”
While Scales has placed Scruton in a variety of positions during the 2004 campaign, the coach projects that he will keep the sophomore as either an attacking midfielder or a forward to take advantage of his athletic abilities and skill in getting by defenders. In addition, Scales said that while Scruton occasionally fades in and out during the game, he has been able to put together much longer stretches of determined soccer.
“Brian is probably our most skillful player as far as his technical ability [and] his ability to run at defenders. He strikes a very clean ball and as far as an attacking player — he’s our most dangerous,” Scales said. “I think that he has the ability to lead the game, could change the point of attack, has good range on his passing and can score goals.”
Scruton, who enjoys playing a center role on the field whether on defense or offense, has most recently been moved to forward to join sophomore Nick Leonard in the team’s 2-1 loss to Yale last Saturday. Prior to the Yale game, Leonard asked Scales if he could put Scruton up top with him since they are familiar with each other from practice and play well together. Although the Red did not get the win, Scruton said that he and Leonard had a great connection in the attacking third and said with more match experience, their partnership will surely improve.
As the Red continue its season — with its next match away at Ivy power Brown this Saturday — Scales knows that Scruton will make a strong impact wherever he is on the field.
“We’d like to have a few more Brian Scrutons if we could get them,” Scales said.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Senior Editor