Midway through its 2005 schedule, the Cornell men’s soccer team begins a new season this weekend, playing its Ivy opener against Penn tomorrow in Philadelphia. While the Red’s 1-4-2 record this season is less than stellar, it is also irrelevant in Ivy play, where the parity of teams and seven-game schedule makes anything possible.
The Quakers will provide an early test of the caliber of this young Cornell team. Penn’s 6-1 record so far this year has been good enough to earn it a ranking of 18th in the country.
“It seems like they’re having a good year, but you know we’re not really too worried about them. As long as we go and get our stuff done and take care of our business we shouldn’t have any problems,” said junior midfielder Brian Kuritzky. “Penn, or UNC, Duke, it doesn’t matter.”
Kuritzky’s attitude is indicative of this year’s team, which has shown no fear while competing against high quality teams like Furman and Syracuse. However, the booters will have to play up to their full potential to compete against a strong Penn squad.
“[Penn’s] had a great start to their season,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We’ll have our hands full against them, but the games in our league can go any way. Everybody’s pretty evenly matched and I think we match up well against them.”
The Quakers lead the Ivies with 15 goals so far this season, yet none of the top six scorers in the league wear red and blue. Instead, Penn has relied upon a well-balanced attack that has seen goals from nine different players so far this season.
“I think both teams are similar in that we both like to play pass-and-move types of soccer,” Scales said. “I think they’re pretty dangerous going forward.”
Penn has been equally impressive defensively so far this season. Allowing only four goals this year, the Quakers hold a stingy 0.57 goals against average in seven games this season. Junior goalkeeper Daniel Cepero leads the Ivies with five shutouts.
The Quakers’ defense is also much improved thanks to the addition of Maryland transfer sophomore Keith Vereb. Also, its tall back line should make Penn strong against the long ball. Like Cornell, Penn is young team, with 11 freshmen on its roster. One of these rookies, Mike Klein, is the leading scorer on the team with three goals this season.
Scales expects the game to be very physical and intense, but feels the Red are well prepared from its previous matches.
“The guys are very ready to play this game,” he said. “I think they’re excited to get the Ivy League season under way and take what they’ve learned in the first part of the season and apply it to [Penn].”
Cornell also opened its 2004 Ivy season against Penn. Although matching up closely with the Quakers, the Red gave up two late second-half goals to lose, 2-0.
Scales recognizes that this year’s Quakers will again be a tough challenge for the Red, but is eager to see how his team performs under the pressures of Ivy play.
“We’ll go in as the underdogs, but we’re excited to be there,” he said. “Our guys will be ready to play.”
Archived article by Paul Testa
Sun Staff Writer