The men’s soccer team will try to end its four-game losing streak this Sunday when it travels to Hanover, N.H., for a match against last year’s league champs, Dartmouth.
The Red, which opened its Ivy schedule with victories over heavily favored Penn and Harvard, have since fallen on hard times in conference play. The team has shown signs of greatness throughout its 2005 campaign, but has been unable to get timely goals in the past few weeks. Although dreams of a league title have faded away over the past month, the booters still have purpose in playing out the rest of their schedule.
“At this point, the next two games are big learning tools for our team,” said junior captain Brian Scruton. “We have a real young team, so it’s important that we make the most out of [the final two] games of the year. We’ve gained a lot of confidence this year so we just have to keep building that and keep building the team. The season isn’t over until the last game is played, so we don’t let our current record affect our play from game to game. We need to go out there and work as if it were the first game of the season.”
On top of that, the Red wants to use its final two matches as a chance to make a statement about the future of the program.
“I think the majority of the team feels like we have a lot to prove,” Scruton said. “We lost to Brown in a game we thought we could have won. We beat Penn, we beat Harvard, so we want to prove to the league that we aren’t the same team that’s usually on the bottom of the league. And a win over Dartmouth, a team which has been consistently on top of the league over the past few years, would be huge. It’d prove to everybody that we are competitive and as good as anybody in the Ivies.”
Dartmouth, on the other hand, is looking to put an exclamation point on the end of a brilliant 2005 season. The Green (9-2-4, 4-1 Ivy) finds itself a three-point victory behind league-leader Brown, a team that has yet to lose a league game this year. Dartmouth had a particularly strong month in October, posting a record of 6-1-1. Its only loss came in double overtime at the hands of Ivy foe Penn.
If the Red is going to get past a strong Dartmouth team, it knows it will need to be aggressive and score early. The Green has allowed a slim 0.62 goals per game, second in the league behind Brown. In its five Ivy games so far, the team has only given up a combined two goals.
“[Dartmouth is] a very defensive team, which makes them real tough to beat,” Scruton said. “It’s going to take a team effort if we want the win – one individual isn’t going to beat them. We really have to come together and play hard. They have a good record, and have won a lot of 1-0 games, so it’s important not to get down a goal, but by the same token, we don’t want to sit back and wait for something to happen, because the longer we go wait, the more susceptible we are to getting scored on ourselves. So we will attack them, but we need to remain patient on our attack. We can’t get frustrated, make a mistake and open the door for them to score.”
The Green has won two Ivy games in as many weeks, and will be looking to make Cornell its third victim come Sunday. In the teams’ meeting last year, Dartmouth edged out the Red, 1-0. Cornell is trying to keep the past behind them, and leave Hanover with a win.
“We need to make sure we outwork them, and minimize our mental mistakes because that has been what has caused some close losses of late,” Scruton said. “Mental lapses that lead to goals have hurt us this season, so if we can minimize our mistakes and work hard all game, we’ll have a chance of beating them.”
Archived article by Ben Kopelman
Sun Staff Writer