September 25, 2006

M. Soccer Battles to Draw

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Under the bright city lights of New York City on Saturday night, the men’s soccer team took the field against an Ivy League rival for the first time this season. Although it may not have been a marquee Broadway event, the Red was still hoping to garner rave reviews as it attempted to make a statement to the rest of the league that Cornell soccer is once again a force in the Ancient Eight.

After 110 minutes of action, however, the only thing Cornell (1-3-3, 0-0-1 Ivy) had to show for its performance was a scoreless tie with Columbia (4-3-1, 0-0-1). Still, the reviews were more positive than the outcome indicates.

“I thought we played well. We created a lot of opportunities on a bad field,” said senior co-captain Dan Marks. “Overall, it was a good game. Even though it was a tie, we’re happy with the way we played.”

Junior Brian Kuritzky, sophomore Dana Flanders and freshman Matt Bouraee each had a shot on goal for the Red, pacing the squad. Bouraee came the closest to swinging the game in favor of either team, hitting the post in the 74th minute on with a shot from the left of goal. But, like the rest of the chances for both teams that night, the ball squirted harmlessly away.[img_assist|nid=18523|title=Shutdown|desc=Sophomore keeper Luca Cerretani (left) posted his second shutout of the season against Columbia Saturday night. (Robert Bonow / Sun Photo Editor)|link=popup|align=left|width=66|height=100]

Sophomore goalie Luca Cerretani earned his second shutout of the season, his first in extra time.

“It was really our shot to prove to the Ivy League who we were,” Cerretani said. “We just came out with everything. It was really intense.”

Columbia out-shot Cornell, 13-10, but the Red had the upper hand in shots on goal, 3-2.

The two shots allowed on goal lowered the Red’s opponents’ shots on goal average to a paltry 3.7 per game, despite having allowed 13.8 shots per game on the year. Solid defense has been Cornell’s hallmark all season, as the team has now given up only two goals in its last four games, going 1-1-2 during that stretch.

“They’ve been awesome all season,” Cerretani said. “I credit everything to them. … They just play awesome every day and always go out and give everything they’ve got.”

“Defensively, we were very solid,” Marks said. “We won almost everything in the air, which is a big key for us. We don’t want to let the ball bounce in our end, and for the most part, we got up and challenged everything. To not give up any goals is obviously great for us.”

Despite its defensive prowess, Cornell has struggled all season to create and finish chances on offense. The Red has only scored five goals on 62 shots this season, and has not scored more than one goal in any game this season. Against the Lions, the Red’s edge in shots on goal was indicative of its higher number of chances and better offensive play, but once again, the Red came away without a victory and fewer than two goals.

“Our center forwards did a real good job: Dana Flanders and [sophomore] Dave Browning. They held the ball up well and distributed well,” Marks said. “A lot of the game, at least in the midfield, was just 50-50 balls. The field was just so bad. The ball was just played in, and winning that first ball was really important. Once we did that, we were able to get the ball wide. I would have liked to have been able to switch the ball a bit more.”