October 26, 2007

M. Soccer Prepares for Physical Princeton

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It’s going to be a family affair tomorrow when the men’s soccer team faces Princeton on the road today. Not only for the Red as a whole, which will return to Ivy League play after a midweek game against Penn St. on Tuesday, but also on the individual level.
Freshman midfielder Will Wolfson will match up against his older brother, senior midfielder Ted Wolfson, when the Red (5-6-1, 0-2-1 Ivy) take on the Tigers (3-8-2, 1-2-0). The matchup between brothers, as well as between the teams, promises to be tense. Princeton was called for 19 fouls to Cornell’s nine in the Red’s win last year at Berman Field, 2-0, and the Wolfson brothers represent that tradition well.
“I’ve only [played against my brother] a few times, and every time it’s been really intense and really physical,” Wolfson said.
Though Princeton started its season with six-game losing streak, the Tigers have been 3-2-2 since then, including a 2-1 overtime loss to No. 8 Brown when the Tigers fell to a late Bears’ surge.
“We are on a losing streak right now,” Wolfson said. “Princeton doesn’t have the best record. Neither do we, but this is our biggest chance so far to come away with an Ivy win this season.”
The Tigers have shown, however, that they will not go down without a fight. Last weekend in Cambridge, Mass., Princeton almost pulled off a the upset over No. 11 Harvard, 3-2, after a second-half comeback by the Crimson. The Tigers had a 2-1 lead going into halftime with goals from senior forward Kyle McHugh and freshman Brandon Busch late in the first half. McHugh leads the Tigers with thirteen points on six goals and an assist, and freshmen Busch and Josh Walburn, who was Ivy League Rookie of the Week Oct. 1, both have two tallies on the season.
Against these threats, Cornell will be without one of its greatest weapons tomorrow.
“We have to cope in the back without [junior] Joe [Yonga] now that Joe’s done for the season,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We have to shuffle people around a bit and figure things out. Between [the injuries of junior] Miyad [Movassaghi] and [junior David] Browning and [senior tri-captain] Kyle [Lynch] and now Joe and bunch of these guys, we have to see how they are the day or two before the game.”
Yonga is one of six players to have played in all 12 of the Red’s games. The versatile player, who could be found on the attack as often as he anchored the back line, had been having a consistently solid season until he broke his foot in a routine running play early in the second half against Penn St.
“[Yonga] is a key player for us,” Wolfson said. “He’s a big guy, and we lose a lot of size in the midfield [with him gone], but we can definitely make up for it. … There are a lot of guys coming off the bench now. Literally everybody on the depth chart has been coming up and playing, so everybody has to give it their all for us to be successful this season.”
The injuries to Yonga and Lynch, in particular, have upset the Red’s defense. Cornell is drawing from a class-diverse roster to pick up the slack in the backfield.
“Craig Dimbleby played back there against Penn St., and he did pretty well,” Scales said. “He’s a freshman. [Senior midfielder] Bob Putko came back because Kyle was out for Penn St. too. We didn’t have Kyle or Joe at Penn St. So those are two options for us right now.”
Junior Dan McKallagat has also shined recently, having been named to the Ivy honor roll Oct. 22 after scoring the Red’s lone goal against Brown last Saturday.
In its last meeting, the Red shut out the Tigers, 2-0, off goals from this year’s leading goal scorers, sophomore Matt Bouraee and senior Brian Kuritzky. Bouraee’s second career goal passed goalie Justin Oppenheimer minutes before halftime, and Kuritzky notched the Red’s first penalty kick goal since 2005 less than two minutes after the break.
“We enjoy playing against Princeton,” Scales said, “because, No. 1, it will be a good soccer game. The ball should be moving. Both teams are going to try to play. We’ve had some great games against Princeton. We’ve won some and we’ve lost some. It’ll be a typical Ivy League playoff game. We have to make sure we keep our concentration and have the right mentality to win.”