October 3, 2007

Men's Soccer Prepares for Ivy Rivals

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It’s time to put up or shut up for the men’s soccer team. The Red opens up its conference play this week and the attractive Ivy League title remains its primary goal.
The first challenger will be an intimidating one: Harvard. The Crimson is ranked 8th in the NSCAA adidas National Rankings, a three-place improvement from last week. Harvard’s 7-1-1 record gives them the highest ranking of all Ivy League schools in the poll. Following closely behind is Brown with a 6-0-1 record, ranked 15th this week and 14th previously.
Both of these teams will be tough opponents for the Red and Cornell’s performance against them will greatly affect their success in the Ivy League.
“Harvard presents a very difficult challenge for us as we start league play,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “They are not only one of the top teams in the league but are widely considered one of the top teams in the country.”
In the history of Ivy League soccer, Cornell is severely underrepresented. Cornell has won only three titles since 1955: 1975, 1977 and 1995. As such, Cornell holds the fewest number of Ivy League titles of any Ancient Eight team. Harvard has had a more solid performance over the years, with 12 titles, including one from 2006. Brown has had an even more consistent showing with a staggering 19 titles.
Cornell has also not had a player since 1979 be named Ivy League Outstanding Player of the Year, although it did have the Rookie of the Year in 1997.
“I think that the guys are excited to start league play,” Scales said. “During the first half of the season, we’ve had some decent performances as well as some inconsistent ones. The most important thing is that the guys learn from each game and continue to get better. The Ivy League is a marathon, not a sprint, and with our injuries situation, it’s important that everybody in our program continues to push forward.”
Cornell’s freshmen will be facing the most intense games of the season. Though the players try to treat every game equally and play their hardest in each match, the importance of the conference games inevitably boosts the intensity and the competitiveness of the games. With a season opener like Harvard, the freshmen will very quickly find out what is expected of them.
“Harvard will be the best team we have faced so far, and in order to get a result we are going to have to battle for it,” said senior tri-captain Kyle Lynch. “As for the other teams in the league, Brown and Dartmouth have received national recognition, and the rest of the Ivy League will surely be competitive. We all know that out-of-conference records aren’t always indicative of Ivy League performance, so we can only expect that every league game will be extremely competitive.”
Coach Scales agreed with the tri-captain about the intensity of conference games.
“These Ivy League games are like playoff games. With no league tournament at the end of the season, each game takes on added significance. They’re real battles.”