September 17, 2008

Albany in Town for M. Soccer Home Opener

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Outscored, outshot, multiple-game losing streak, only played on the road so far. Each one of these things currently applies to both the Cornell and Albany men’s soccer teams. Tonight, however, the Red returns home for its first tilt of the season on Berman field against the still-vagabond Great Danes.
“As a team, we’re obviously not doing very well this season,” said junior forward Matt Bouraee. “This season really sucks so far actually.”
A hard statement to dispute after the Red has dropped its first four games against some tough competition by and average of 2.75 goals per game.
“Albany, though, they’re no Berkeley,” Bouraee pointed out, referring to Cornell’s 5-0 loss to the No. 3-ranked Golden Bears.
And thus, Cornell (0-4) is excited to be playing at home for the first time and to be facing an opponent it beat last year, 3-2. And with lots of changeover due to graduation, the Great Danes found themselves picked to finish eighth in the America East Conference to start this season.
The Red knows, however, that home field can’t be the only difference between itself and Albany (3-2) if the squad is to come out victorious.
“I think for us, we’re continuing to try and concentrate for longer periods of time so we can stay tuned in for 45 minutes at a time,” said head coach Bryan Scales. “We’ve had a tendency to give away goals at really bad times during games.”[img_assist|nid=31768|title=Step away from the kicker|desc=Sophomore forward Jeff Zimering (16) winds up for a kick in a 2-1 win over Colgate on Sept. 19.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Bad times like in the first five minutes of the Red’s last game against the University of New Hampshire, or two minutes into the second half of the Bucknell, or three minutes into the second half of the Stanford game. Scales preaches the importance of the first and last five minutes of each half, an area where the Red has struggled.
“Fatigue has a lot to do with it,” Scales said. “Just getting games under your belt helps us build up our fitness and we’re hoping as we move forward that we can improve in that area.”
Cornell has not had as much of a problem possessing the ball at midfield, but has struggled to find chances in and around the 18-yard line.
“I feel like I’m doing well and dribbling by people and doing my thing, but I don’t get anywhere near the goal,” Bouraee said. “It’s pretty discouraging. … I took shots from 40 yards out, 30 yards out. They’re going on goal, but you’re not going to score that way.”
Against Albany, however, Cornell thinks it can get the ball downfield after working on a more aggressive style of attack in practice.
“We have more of an attacking plan now,” Bouraee said. “Our fullback and outside defenders are going to run up the field more to support the attack. Hopefully, that will contribute something to the offense.”
The Great Danes defense has been humiliated the past two games — both losses — giving up nine goals after only allowing one goal through the first three contests — all wins. It also appears the Albany backline might suffer from fatigue, surrendering 80 percent of its goals in the second half.
The last line of Albany defense, though, could pose a unique challenge for Cornell. Senior Steward Ceus, listed at 6-6, forces opponents to alter their shooting approach.
“It challenges me to position my shot low and to the corner in order to beat him,” Bouraee said. “Otherwise I don’t think much will get by him.”
Scales added that Ceus could punt the ball up to 70 yards on drop kicks. Albany freshman Adrian Foncette has seen time in net, however, starting two games but posting less impressive numbers than Ceus.
Offensively, the Great Danes attack has been somewhat one-dimensional, with junior Claudio Dantas netting half of the teams eight goals. Dantas, a sharpshooter, has buried four of six shots on goal he has taken.
“Hopefully we can get a win,” Bouraee said. “At this rate, I think everyone’s burnt out and sick of losing. … We’re beating ourselves over and over again.”