September 26, 2008

M. Soccer Makes Last Stand Before Ivy Play

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After registering its first victory of the season on the road last weekend, the men’s soccer team returns to Berman Field tonight looking to build on that success. Standing in the Red’s way are the Binghamton Bearcats (4-1-3, 1-0 America East), who are currently riding a seven-game unbeaten streak.
Cornell knows that Binghamton will be a formidable opponent and is preparing for a tightly contested matchup.
“It is going to be a tough game for us,” said assistant coach Joe Schneck. “Binghamton is a very good team. It will be a fight for us, and it will be a good test given that it is our last game before Ivy play. It will be good for our guys. It will hopefully be a game where we can match the intensity and hopefully sneak a goal and just let the game play out.”
[img_assist|nid=32119|title=On the move|desc=Senior co-captain David Browning (9) and the rest of the Red’s forwards will have to be opportunistic against Binghamon’s defense tonight.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The Bearcats have had an impressive start to their season, including a 1-0 win over then-No. 21 Wisconsin. Binghamton has started to garner some national attention itself, receiving three votes in the most recent NSCAA/Adidas National Rankings.
The historical series between the two schools is even at one game apiece. Last year, however, the Bearcats dismantled the Red by a score of 3-0.
The strength of the Bearcats game this year is most certainly on the defensive end, where they have allowed just five goals in eight games. Junior goalkeeper Jason Stenta has recorded four shutouts. Schneck knows that in order for his players to have success, they will have to capitalize on whatever offensive chances they get.
“I think you have to be opportunistic,” Schneck said. “Rarely a game goes by where you don’t get a chance or two. It is just a matter of who is going to put away the chances. I think if we are opportunistic and do a good job with the chances that we do get … then we have a shot. They are pretty tough defensively and they are hard to break down, but I still think a few chances are going to drop our way and it is just a matter of what we do with them.”
Offensively, Binghamton boasts an evenly balanced attack, with four players who have scored multiple times and six players with four points on the year. Its attack is headlined by forward Andy Tiedt. The freshman, with six points on the year, has already been honoured as an America East Rookie of the Week. 
In order for the Red to be up to the challenge, it must receive an all-around effort from every position on the field. On the year, Cornell has been outscored by its opponents by an intimidating margin of 17-3. In practice this week, the Red has been working on its coordination and chemistry on both the offensive and defensive sides.
“The back four have been working together, and we have been doing a lot of defensive shaping,” Schneck said. “Also, we have the attacking players in practice working on just connecting, working on getting patterns down and connecting as unit — having a feel for everyone else on the field and what they are going to do.”
However, in last weekend’s game against Lafayette, the Red put on a much-improved performance. Cornell got on the board early and was able to hold out for a 2-1 win, getting goals from two of its offensive leaders: senior Joe Yonga and junior Matt Bouraee.
That game gave the Red players a boost of confidence that Schneck believes will be influential in tonight’s matchup.
“Anytime the guys’ spirits can be up and you are a little more excited to get to training, it helps,” Schneck said. “[The win last weekend] blows a little wind in our sails and brings that extra excitement to the training field and gets them ready to meet the next challenge.”
Despite the slow start, the Red is still looking to reach the goal it set out for itself: making the National tournament. In order to do so, the squad knows it will have to continue to play the way it did against Lafayette and even improve upon that performance.
“Every year, our goals are probably the same,” Schneck explained. “At the end of the day, you want to make the National tournament. How you go about that can happen in a few different ways. Those things have not changed for us. We have had a little bit of a tough start to the season, but those things remain the same.”