October 4, 2007

M. Soccer Prepared to Topple No. 8 Harvard

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Harvard will come to Ithaca Saturday night as the No. 8 ranked team in the nation and will look to secure this rank with another win at Berman Field. Cornell (5-3), however, aims to challenge the Crimson (7-1-1) squad and prove that it can play with the elite teams in the country.
Harvard, the winner of the Ivy League title last year, has come back even stronger in this season. So far in 2007, the Crimson has scored 20 goals and allowed only nine. The Red, on the other hand, has recorded 13 goals and given up 10. The two teams have winning percentages of .875 and .625 respectively and are currently ranked No. 1 and No. 4 in the Ivy League.
In direct contrast to Cornell’ inconsistent offense in 2006, the 2007 Red squad leads the Ivy League in number of shots on goal per game (7.38) and Harvard knows that Cornell’s attack will prove a consistent and constant threat.
The Crimson also boasts a number of high profile players. Sophomore forward Andre Akpan was recently named National Player of the Week by College Soccer News and is currently No. 4 in the nation in number of points per game (1.75). The Crimson also has no shortage of players on the Ivy League honor roll.
“They return US National Team members, Andre Akpan, Matt Hoff, Jim Stamatis and Mike Fucito — all dangerous players who can beat you on any given day,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We know that we will have our hands full.”
Last season, Cornell gave Harvard a run for its money. The game went into double overtime and ended when Harvard scored the lone goal of the game to sneak by the Red, 1-0. Last year and this year alike, the Crimson squad’s offense is widely praised and has evidently been successful in putting the ball in the net.
According to senior tri-captain Aaron Vieira the Red defense was able to effectively shut down the Crimson’s highly acclaimed offense last year by limiting its number of goal-scoring opportunities.
“We performed well against them last year, but this is a new season, and we’re not looking toward last year as an indication of this year’s results,” Vieira said. “We know that they’re a great team and that we’ll have to be at our best on Saturday.”
Coach Scales, Vieira fellow senior tri-captain Kyle Lynch and junior goalkeeper Luca Cerretani all agreed that Harvard will receive no special treatment.
“We will prepare for this game the way we prepare for all of our games,” Cerretani said.
The game lands in the middle of Fall Break and compromises the Red’s fan base that has, so far this season, been enthusiastic.
Cornell defeated Harvard the last time the team’s met in Ithaca in 2005 by a score of 3-2. And so far this season, the Red has not lost a game on Berman field. Cornell hopes to continue this tradition and topple the top Ivy team on Saturday.