The men’s soccer team will look to make a statement to the rest of the Ivy League tomorrow when it takes on a talented Penn (5-2, 1-0 Ivy) team in its Ivy League home-opener at Berman Field. Despite recording only one win so far this season, the Red (1-3-3, 0-0-1 Ivy) — led by its deep and talented sophomore class — has shown a great deal of promise, most notably in battling No.19 Boston University to a 1-1 draw Sept. 17.
[img_assist|nid=18650|title=All’s clear|desc=All’s clear. Sophomore back Dan McKallagat (24) and the Cornell defense will look to shut down Penn tomorrow night.|link=popup|align=right|width=70|height=100]
“We go into this game expecting it to be difficult and expecting to win,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “Every game in our league is difficult but we put our team through a very tough week of training, so the guys are in shape, hardened and ready to go.”
Not only does Cornell enter the game in prime physical condition, but the team also is the healthiest it has been all year.
The Red returns several key contributors for this weekend’s game, including the most experienced player on its roster, senior midfielder Brain Scruton. Sophomore forward David Browning — who is coming back from an ACL injury — and junior midfielder Aaron Vieira will also return to action.
Cornell will face a motivated Quaker team, however, as the Red defeated the squad in a 2-1 upset last year, knocking No.18 Penn out of the national rankings.
“Penn is obviously a very dangerous and formidable team,” Scales said. “That can be supported by the fact that they scored three goals on Harvard last week, a squad which I think is probably the most talented in our league.”
The Quakers’ potent offense is led by sophomore forward Mike Klein, who leads the team in points (11) and assists (five) and had an All-Ivy honorable mention rookie campaign last season. Senior Ryan Tracy paces Penn with four goals on the year.
“They are a very dangerous team going forward as they have a lot of different guys that can get into the box and score goals,” Scales said. “Usually they have at least three forwards and two midfielders moving forward at once. We will have to concentrate on controlling these players.”
Penn has outscored its opponents, 16-7, so far this year, with experienced senior goalkeeper Daniel Cepero anchoring the defense.
Cepero has started every game since his sophomore year and has amassed three shutouts, 25 saves and a 1.00 goals against average this season.
Cornell, on the other hand, has been outscored, 8-5, so far this year. The Red has yet to find a consistent rhythm on offense, but has been steadily improving on its ability to put shots on goal.
“One key for our team this weekend is to be good in possession with the ball, especially in critical areas on the field,” Scales said. “Hopefully that will translate into some scoring opportunities for us.”
Sophomore forward Dana Flanders, who has a team-high three points on the season, will lead the offensive charge, but should be aided up front by the senior leadership of Scruton.
Co-captains junior Kyle Lynch and senior Dan Marks lead a stingy Cornell defense. This has proved to be no problem as of late, with sophomore goalkeeper Luca Cerretani posting a 0.44 goals against average and a .910 save percentage over his last four games.
“The team is not even thinking about challenging for a championship right now,” Scales said. “We’re just trying to win one Ivy League game at a time and hopefully the rest will take care of itself.”