September 18, 2006

Red Battles to Draw Against No. 19 Boston University

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The men’s soccer team seems to be finding its stride at just the right time as the Red battled No. 19 Boston University (4-1-3) to a 1-1 draw yesterday, just one week before the Red (1-3-2) begins its grueling Ivy League schedule.

“This was a gritty performance by our team to come from behind and tie up a game against a very good team,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “This game really speaks to the personality of the guys on our team; they bring a competitive mentality that we have lacked in years past.”

Boston — which was coming off of its first defeat of the year at the hands of Ivy League powerhouse Brown — was in control for most of the match, but was held scoreless by a stingy Cornell defense well into the second half. In the 70th minute, however, one of the Terrier’s 16 shots finally found the back of the net, as sophomore Jin Oh gained possession of the ball from the 18-yard line and buried it into the top-right corner for his first goal of the young season.

But Cornell would not go down without a fight as the team put together a scoring drive of its own with only six minutes left in the game. Freshman Matt Devitt lofted the ball from the 18-yard line to the back post of the Terrier goal where classmate John Bain connected on a glancing header past Boston goalkeeper Zach Riffett.

Cornell had its only other legitimate scoring opportunity with just 30 seconds left in the second overtime, when junior Brian Kuritzky gave the ball a ride, only to be knocked down by Riffett for his only save of the contest.

The hero of the day for Cornell was sophomore goalkeeper Luca Cerretani, who came into the game with only 11 career saves in his collegiate career to his credit, but was impenetrable against the Terriers — stopping nine out of 10 shots that came his way.

“Luca was just outstanding today; we threw him into the mix this season with [sophomore Steve] Lesser down and he seems to be gaining more confidence in his abilities every game,” Scales said. “He literally saved the game for us on several different occasions, all of which were saves of the spectacular variety.”

The first such occasion was a point-blank header by Boston sophomore forward Petur Sigurdsson in the first overtime, which Cerretani instinctively pushed over the crossbar to preserve the 1-1 tie. His heroics were only beginning, however, as the goalkeeper made two more diving saves off of Boston corner kicks.

Sigursson tried again in the second overtime to end the game when he drilled a ball towards the lower left corner of the Cornell goal, but a diving Cerretani deflected it just enough to skip outside the post. In all, the Red goalkeeper stopped four Terrier shots in the extra sessions to preserve the tie.

The draw is even more impressive for Cornell considering that the team left six key players at home in Ithaca to nurse an assortment of injuries.
“We asked a lot of guys who don’t usually play that much to step up and make some contributions — [and] they did just that,” Scales said.

Although the team has only tallied one victory on the year, Scales is very happy with the position his team is in as it heads into its first Ivy League contest next Saturday against Columbia.

“With six games under our belts, I think we’re as ready as we’re going to be at this point,” he said. “We are a much better team then we were at this point last year. We’re harder to score on, more dangerous going forward on offense and have that competitive mentality. We’re going to give everyone we face a tough game.”