After a disappointing 0-5 start to the season, the men’s soccer team hopes to gain some confidence and pride by coming together as unit this Sunday in Easton, Penn. The Red will take on the Lafayette Leopards in what the it hopes to be a turning point for a squad frustrated by a lack of continuity on offense and execution on defense.
Yesterday, head coach Bryan Scales called a team meeting to discuss what must be done to right the path of the 2008 season.
“We have to do a lot of soul-searching, figure out why we’re making the same mistakes day-in and day-out,” said junior forward Matt Bouraee. “No one wants to continue like this. At this point, we can only improve, and we won’t give up as a team.”
In its five matchups so far this year, the Red has netted only one goal while allowing at least three tallies in three different games.
“We’re looking just to find pride in ourselves,” said sophomore midfielder Scott Caldwell. “We think we can come back from this. We’ve done it in practice, we just need to do it in the game.”
The road does not get any easier against Lafayette, a team that defeated West Virginia, then ranked No. 15 in the nation, in its season-opener Aug. 29. [img_assist|nid=31923|title=Fancy feet|desc=Senior forward David Browning (9) controls the ball during a 1-3 loss against Brown on Oct. 10, 2007.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
“We’re the underdogs again, and we’re going to go out there and play — that’s all we can do,” Bouraee said.
Last weekend, Lafayette split its two contests at the Duquesne tournament. The Leopards had a strong win, 4-1, against Richmond on Friday but lost a tough overtime game, 2-1, to host Duquesne on Sunday.
The Leopards are 2-3-1 on the season, and their starting sophomore goalkeeper, Andrew Pianko, already has two shutouts on the year. With a proven defense awaiting it, the Red knows its anemic offense must find a rhythm.
“Last year, we attacked as a unit, with forwards putting their passes together. [This year] the midfielders and forwards just aren’t playing as a unit,” Bouraee said.
“In the final third of the field, we’re missing that last pass to put the ball in the net,” Caldwell added.
The Red’s one score this season came off a corner kick with a header by senior midfielder and co-captain Joe Yonga — his first career goal.
Opportunistic moments like that could help get the team’s offense on track.
Despite the discouraging start, the team has no immediate plans to change its strategy, confident that its current formation gives the Red its best chance for success.
“Right now, we’re staying with our formation,” said senior forward Dana Flanders.
With the team struggling to execute with consistency and Ivy League competition just over two weeks away, Cornell is looking to its senior captains — David Browning, Jarid Siegel and Yonga — and their leadership both on and off the field.
“Leadership can keep us together as a group and keep our heads up,” Bouraee said.
Despite praise for the upperclassmen, however, a significant turn-around is going to take a team effort.
“We just really need to focus on what we can do as a team,” Flanders said.
For the Red, preparation for this weekend is about looking forward and doing everything the players can do to improve — without dwelling on the past.
“We have to come out and get two solid days of practice and work on what [Scales] tells us,” Flanders said. “We need to put the past five games behind us and focus on the 12 more games ahead of us.”