September 11, 2006

M. Soccer Splits, Posts First Victory of Season

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It was a tale of two different teams this weekend for the men’s soccer squad, as Cornell was smothered by Vermont 3-1 on Friday, but managed to rebound yesterday with a gritty 1-0 shutout of New Hampshire — its first victory of the 2006 campaign.

“Although we had nothing working on Friday I am very happy with the way our team responded in the second game,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We’re obviously thrilled to get our first win and I think we will continue to improve.”

On Friday, Cornell (1-2-1) was simply overpowered by a tough Vermont (2-1-2) squad that seemed determined not to look foolish in front of over 1,000 fans on its home field. The host team kept the pressure on the Red’s defense by banging out 15 shots over the course of the game – compared to Cornell’s eight – on its way to a 3-1 victory.

“We couldn’t have played worse on Friday,” Scales said. “We were terrible in most aspects of the game. We weren’t good with the ball and we had a lot of mistimed headers and tackles. We were just out of whack defensively.”

Freshman T.J Gore got the scoring started for the Catamounts with his first career goal – a drive from 10yards out that glanced off of sophomore goalkeeper Steve Lesser’s foot for a goal. The score remained 1-0 until the 72nd minute, when Lesser couldn’t handle a pass from one of his defenders and Vermont sophomore Jordan Crasilneck gained possession, calmly depositing the ball into an open net.

The Red answered back as sophomore Dana Flanders connected on his first collegiate goal with just over five minutes left in the game. The ball was placed in the box on a free kick and after Vermont goaltender Roger Scully lost the handle on a blocked shot Flanders buried it in the net from 10 yards out.

Despite Flander’s efforts, the Catamounts put the game away just 14 seconds later when junior Tyler Hasman received the ball on a long feed behind the Cornell defense, looping around Lesser for the Vermont’s third goal.

“Sometimes you just are out of sync,” Scales said. “And that was us on Friday.”

But the lights switched on for Cornell yesterday, as the booters grinded out an unlikely 1-0 win to hand New Hampshire its first loss of the season just two days after the Wildcats knocked off No. 23 Central Connecticut.

“This was a game where we really battled for 90 minutes,” Scales said. “I was looking for some type of response after how poorly we played on Friday — I got just what I was looking for.”

It was a defensive battle throughout the first half, as both sides exchanged shots but no blood was drawn, as the teams went into halftime scoreless. Sophomore goalkeeper Luca Cerretani — who let up two goals in his first game in net this year — stole the show, making four saves, including a sliding stop of a breakaway by New Hampshire’s Chris Banks in the 26th minute.

“Cerretani played very well for us, filling in for Steve Lesser,” Scales said. “Lesser may have a problem with the meniscus in his knee and could miss some time. That being said, our starting goalkeeper will vary from day-to-day and game-to-game. We will just try to go with the hot hand.”

The standoff continued well into the second half until Cornell took its first lead of the year on a goal by senior co-captain Dan Marks in the 71st minute.

Junior midfielder Brian Kuritzky launched the ball into the box from the right side of the field on a free kick, which Marks redirected with a glancing header that snuck just inside the near post and past New Hampshire goalkeeper Brian Levey.

“I am very encouraged by our performance on Sunday,” Scales said. “This is a very important step in the right direction.”