January 27, 2005

Two Cornell Booters Earn Chance to Play in Pros

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Earlier this month, two Red soccer players took major steps towards making dreams coming true.

Senior defender Scott Palguta was drafted by the Rochester Rhinos in the United Soccer League’s First Division draft while senior goalkeeper David Mahoney was invited to a training camp for Major League Soccer team, the Chicago Fire, to fight for a place on the team’s preseason roster.

“I was really excited when I heard [I was invited],” Mahoney said. “[Playing professionally] is something that I’ve been going towards for a while.”

Both players have continued to stay fit after the Ivy League season and attended a combine in Florida over the break, displaying their skills to professional scouts and coaches. While the Red had a difficult season this year, men’s head coach Bryan Scales was not surprised that two of his former tri-captains are getting interest from teams.

“They’ve always wanted to try to be professional soccer players, and I was going to do everything I could do to help them get their foot in the door,” Scales said. “I know that each of them has a shot at being a pro.”

Palguta, who was the only player in the Ivy League to be drafted into the USL First Division — a level lower than MLS — is entering an organization which has a history of success. Scales said that the Rhinos are usually towards the top of the standings and are trying to build a new stadium — partially in an attempt to join MLS. In addition, former Red midfielder Ian Pilarski ’04 played on loan at Rochester last season.

Palguta could still end with with an MLS team through the league’s second draft. In addition, next week, he is heading to Florida to train with the MetroStars “It’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to be a professional soccer player,” Palguta said. “To have a chance to do it for a living, I’m really excited about it.”

Along with the team, Mahoney also had some trouble this season, playing with nagging injuries throughout the campaign. Mahoney said he has been talking to different coaches and individuals in professional