129 Linden Ave. looks like any other house in Collegetown, but 10 years ago it was home to one of the best Cornell men’s soccer teams in program history. The ’95 team went 15-1-1, 6-1-0 Ivy, setting school records for wins and winning streaks on its way to taking Cornell’s first Ivy title since 1977 and earning its first NCAA appearance since 1980.
Why bring up, in the midst of this young 2005 season, a team whose legend exists today primarily in the minds of its members and the archives of The Sun. Because that ’95 team and this ’05 squad have more in common than the school on their jersey.
Shared by both teams is the adversity and pressure of losing seasons, the ’95 booters went 2-10-3 in ’94, going winless in the Ivies, while this year’s Red squad is coming off an equally dismal ’04 season going 1-14-1.
Current head coach Bryan Scales was in his second year as an assistant coach to Dave Sarachan ’76 back in ’95.
“That ’95 group was a special group,” Scales said. “We took our lumps together. [They] were just hard nosed guys – [who showed] it doesn’t matter how things go in the past. You’re representing the program and things are going to happen for you.”
The similarities for the two teams continue past coaching and records. The success of the ’95 team was in no small part due to the chemistry that developed between teammates who had learned the hard way how terrible losing feels.
“It takes a season like [’94] to put things in perspective and make you appreciate them a little more,” said center back Don Megliola ’97. “Guys bond like never before and we just came out and did not want to lose games.”
Fellow defenseman and classmate Dan Weideman agreed.
“We just gelled,” he said. “We had a motley crue.”
A similar chemistry can be seen in this year’s squad, observed on the training fields on Game Farm Rd. or outside the locker rooms of Bartels Hall after games.
“This is a team that I felt after the first couple of days, you could tell that the atmosphere at training, how they trusted each other on the field [was very strong],” Scales said. “Even the freshman just coming into it, they bought into the system.”
Megliola noticed it too, when he and several other teammates came back to Cornell two weeks ago to honor the 10-year anniversary of that ’95 team during Cornell’s alumni game against Colgate.
“They’ve got some good young guys out there and they seem like they’re ready to take something on,” he said.
But it takes more than good chemistry to win games.
1995 was a breakout year for forward Eric Kusseluk ’97, who played as the lone forward in 4-5-1 formation and knocked home 18 goals for the Red.
“It was my job to score so I didn’t always feel the need to pass,” he said.
This year’s team has yet to produce a go-to goal scoring threat. However, with a talented group of forwards, lead by the technical skill of junior Brian Scruton and the powerful speed of senior Kuda Wekwete, the Red has shown the potential of being a dangerous offensive team.
The members of the ’95 squad described their team as having a never-say-die attitude. The truth of their description is backed up by the team’s six overtime victories. So far this season, the Red has gone 0-1-1 in overtime games. The team will certainly need to prove itself capable of handling clutch situations to have a chance to win.
Losing seasons are by no means the secret ingredient to success, but this year’s squad knows that anything is possible with league action starting in less than two weeks when it faces Penn on Oct. 1 in Philadelphia.
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer