For the men’s soccer team, the goal remains the same: an Ivy League championship. The squad has set its sights on the ever-elusive prize after three years of disarray, and despite two recent losses, maintains its initial aspirations. As a result, the coach and players all recognize the importance of every game this season.
“The Ivy League season will always be a true test of mental and physical strength,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “Each match is a playoff game and we feel as though we have the experience and leadership to compete with the top teams in the league.
Junior Joe Yonga also expressed the team’s hope for the title after experiencing a tough few seasons.
“The rebuilding seasons are in the past and we want to improve upon our performance in the Ivy League last year and be a serious contender for the title this year,” Yonga said.
The team opens Ivy League play against one of its toughest opponents — Harvard. The Crimson beat Cornell in a tough overtime match last season and went on to become the Ivy League eventual champions.
“Harvard will be a difficult opening game,” Scales said. “They are the defending champs and have quality returning in almost every position. Our match against them last year should have no bearing on this year’s contest. We’ll need to be at our best.”
“We are excited for the Harvard game this year especially after the heartbreaking OT loss last year at their place,” Yonga said. “Harvard is one of the stronger team,s not only in the Ivy League, but in the nation and a strong opener against them will set the pace for the rest of our Ivy League season.”
Although the Red’s roster is made up of 16 upperclassmen this year, the team will utilize all of its talent — from seniors to freshman. Yonga praised the leadership of the captains and the dedication of the new players.
“Our captains and seniors were with the team when things weren’t going well years ago, but they commited themselves to the program and have worked hard to lead this team to where we are today,” Yonga said. “They are not only great leaders on the field, but are also great guys off the field which has helped our team chemistry tremendously, especially when it comes to welcoming in the freshmen who have worked their way into the program nicely so far.”
Coach Scales expresses optimism and confidence in the freshmen on the squad.
“All of our freshmen have contributed so far in this early part of the season,” Scales said. “Even in training, guys like Will Wolfson, Adam Hardie, Shane Merriman, Craig Dimbleby and others have been pushing hard each day to get into the squad. Matt Stengel, Brett Sumpio, Scott Caldwell and Jeff Zimering have gotten onto the field a little bit more, but they are all moving in the right direction. It takes a real strong mentality to adjust to this level as a freshman. They are working at it everyday.”