Three games into its budding season, the men’s soccer team resembles a ticking time bomb, just waiting to go off. The team has proven that they are more than competitive against good teams – matching touted programs like Lehigh, Syracuse and Colgate almost step for step thus far. With two matches scheduled for this upcoming weekend, the Red is looking for that little, but oh-so important spark to set it off and push its season into a higher gear. The journey continues this afternoon, as the men travel to Amherst, Mass., in an attempt to upset UMass on its home turf. From there, the team will re-board the bus en route to its Sunday bout against Hartford.
Although the team has continued to show improvement throughout its first two weeks of competition, it has yet to pick up that invaluable first win. After dropping its first two matches in closely fought games, the men settled for a tie against Colgate in its most recent contest. However, as has been the case from day one of the season, junior captain Brian Scruton is fairly satisfied with what he has seen thus far.
“Right now, we’re still very positive.” Scruton said. “We’ve improved every game so far. We don’t see ourselves as a winless team as much as an improving team. We’re all still staying pretty positive about the year.”
Although the team is staying upbeat about its chances, it will have some work to do if it aims at coming home with two wins on its side.
“Both teams are really good technical teams,” Scruton said. “They’ll be good on the ball and have a lot of overall team speed, so we’ll need to adjust our game a bit towards that. But we’re confident – this weekend is really big, and a couple of wins would really turn the season right around.”
Umass has demonstrated a degree of inconsistency throughout its first set of matches this year. The Minutemen opened its season scoring six goals in a convincing win over McGill in an exhibition game. However, the team followed that up with a lackluster performance less than a week later when they dropped to New England Revolution 7-0 in another exhibition match. Since the start of the regular season, the Minutemen (1-3-0) have lost to Michigan State, Maine and the Red’s Sunday opponent, Hartford. Its sole victory came at the expense of Michigan in the second game of the MSU Fall Classic by a final tally of 3-1.
Hartford has played tough in each of its first four matches, and enters the upcoming weekend with a record of 2-1-1. Last year, the Hawks finished their season a disappointing 2-11-4. However, as the Red can attest, records can be deceiving – eight of Hartford’s 11 losses were by a single goal. Combine that with its four ties and one can see that the Hawks are a competitive team.
“I think since our seasons were so similar [last year] we know not to take them lightly,” Scruton said. “We know from last year that a team’s record doesn’t mean everything, as we feel our record [misrepresents] us both last season and now. If we go out there and execute our game plan we’ve got a good chance of leaving with a win.”
The Hawks began their season participating in the annual Drexel Invitational in Philadelphia. The team squeaked by in the first round, edging past LaSalle 3-2 in overtime, and settled for a 1-1 tie versus tournament host Drexel in the championship match. Since then, the team has gone 1-1 despite having a tough time putting the ball in the net – it was shutout in a 2-0 loss to Quinnipiac, but held on to a 1-0 lead in its home opener versus UMass. The Hawks are pitted against Navy in a match scheduled for tomorrow night, and then get the Red on Sunday.
Youth has served the Red well to this point, but as with all young teams, time is often the best medicine for a slow start. As the season progresses, the team is confident that the wins will come.
“It’s tough not getting the results you hope for. But we’re a young team so once we find our groove I think we’ll be fine – nobody [is] panicking. Hopefully this weekend will be a turning point for the rest of the season,” Scruton said.
Archived article by Ben Kopelman
Sun Staff Writer