August 24, 2007

Men’s Soccer Seniors Target Ivy League Title

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“Nothing less than the NCAA tournament,” agreed senior co-captains Kyle Lynch and Aaron Vieira. “It’s our last year and it’s definitely time.”
The men’s soccer team has high hopes for the upcoming season — and for good reason. The team finished in the top-half of the Ivy League last year and has shown consistent improvement since the seniors were freshmen. In its first season at Cornell, the senior class struggled with an underwhelming record and has fought to improve in the standings since. With 16 returning upperclassmen, the team is justifiably optimistic.
By the second half of last season, the team had developed a better functioning system to capitalize on it’s style of play. With this established from the beginning of the season, rather than midway through, the Red will almost certainly benefit, as the season will begin with a more experienced, confident and effective squad, well-versed in the team’s established style.
In the past, the Red has worked to develop its possession game and to improve its control in the middle of the field. With many returning players such as Vieira, senior Brian Kuritsky, juniors Dana Flanders, Dan McKallagat, Miyad Movassaghi and Joe Yonga, and sophomore J.J. Bain, the captains are confident that the Red will be able to possess the ball and get it up to the forwards.
“We finally have guys on the team who can score from nothing,” Lynch said. “Sophomore Matt Bouraee and junior David Browning are some of the fastest, strongest and toughest attackers in the conference, and will definitely be a challenge to any defender.”
Vieira was equally confident, saying “Bouraee is a very dangerous attacker and Browning is probably the toughest forward in the Ivy League.”
As for new faces, the freshmen have been getting some playing time, and the captains are looking forward to seeing what they have to offer. Freshmen Brett Sumpio and Jeff Zimering have already performed well in the scrimmages, scoring goalsd and impressing the captains with their play.
The Red’s strength has been it’s strong defense. The team’s losses last season were almost all within a single goal differential. Cornell allowed only 16 goals in 15 games, and despite a number of injuries, including one to Lynch, the Red looks to maintain and improve upon that record.
This year, the Red has a more diffuclt schedule, with only six home games and a few especcially difficult road games. The team will travel to both Kentucky and Penn State to take on two well-established teams. Though the Red did not play Penn State last year, three years ago Penn State handily defeated the Red. Two years ago, Penn State beat the Red by a much closer score of 2-1.
The captains explained that besides being a close game, Penn State scored off two dead-ball plays — on free kicks.
“I think we have a good chance of beating them this year,” Lynch said.
Playing these teams will help the Red work on its game and better prepare it for Ivy League play.
“It’s definitely important to play such impressive teams. In order to get into the NCAA tournament, a team needs to have good records both in and out of its conference,” Vieira said. “Admission to the NCAAs depends on a team’s record, regional record and strength of schedule. Playing impressive teams like Kentucky or Penn State not only helps us as a team, but also helps our chances at an NCAA bid.”
Another reason for the team’s optimism stems from last season’s performance. Harvard won the Ivy League and was therefore automatically in the NCAA tournament. It boasted the highest scoring offense. Cornell fell to Harvard 1-0 after playing into a second overtime. Brown also made the NCAA tournament, but fell to Harvard, 7-2.
The Captains agree: it’s time for Cornell to show itself as a viable force that will settle for nothing shy of the NCAA tournament. Judging by its history, the Red’s quickly approaching future looks bright.