September 21, 2007

M. Soccer Hosts Vermont

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The men’s soccer team deserved its day off yesterday. After beating rival Colgate, 2-1, on Wednesday night in its home opener on Berman Field to snap a three-game losing streak against the Red Raiders, the team will stay at home this weekend to face Vermont (3-4) on Sunday at 1 p.m.
Cornell (4-2) and Vermont have only faced off twice before, and the Catamounts took both games. The Red, however, is in a very different position coming into this year’s game than it was the last time the two teams met.
Last September, the Red was winless entering the Smith Barney/Nike Classic in Burlington, Vt., when it was trounced by host Vermont, 3-1.
The one bright spot came when junior forward Dana Flanders scored his first collegiate goal with just over 5 minutes left in the game.
“Last year [Vermont] just played faster than we did,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “They’re an athletic team. They have speed out of their two frontrunners, and they’re a very hard-working group. They’re very organized, so they’re going to be tough to break down. We’ll need to make sure that we’re switched on again this Sunday.”
At this point in the 2007 season, the Red’s offense has had much more success than last year.
“We’ve come together a lot earlier in the season,” Flanders said. “We’re definitely a better team than we were last year. I think Vermont will be surprised.”
The Catamounts are coming off a two-game winning streak. All four of the team’s losses came against strong programs — including two nationally ranked teams. Vermont sustained 2-0 losses to No. 8 Santa Clara and No. 9 Harvard, and a double-overtime loss to Michigan St., which received votes in the national rankings.
Scales was impressed with his team’s mental focus against Colgate, but thought that the Red will need to maintain that level of concentration this weekend against “one of the top teams in the America East Conference.”
“They’re a very dangerous team,” he said. “They have speed up top. They’ve got a number of technical guys in the midfield, and they thumped us 3-1 last year, so we know how good they’re going to be.”
The Catamounts also field a relatively young team with many of their strongest players returning from last year, according to Flanders.
In fact, all three goal-scorers from last year’s matchup will take the field again this weekend: sophomore forward T.J. Gore, junior midfielder Jordan Crasilneck and senior forward Tyler Hasman.
The Red hopes to have an edge on the talented Catamounts this Sunday by attracting the same kind of fan presence as Wednesday’s game. After the successful raffling off of the signed Mexican National team jersey at the home opener, the Red will offer up another collector’s item on this weekend — a signed New England Revolution jersey. Furthermore, men’s hockey line ticket numbers will also be announced at halftime.
“Anytime you get good vocal support from your fans, that gives the players energy,” Scales said. “That’s where the fans can really make a difference.”
“[Vermont will] be some stiff competition,” said sophomore forward Matt Bouraee. “It’s important that we go into the game confidently. Hopefully our fans will be there again … to bring up the energy level. Sometimes in games people are just keeping possession and not taking risks and attacking. When the energy level is up like that, people are doing everything they can to win.