October 3, 2008

Veterans Search for Redemption

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Bryan Scales enters his 11th season as head coach of the men’s soccer team boasting a team with 11 seniors on the roster. Last year, his squad finished with a 7-9-1 overall record after some inconsistent play in the Ivy League led to a 1-5-1 in-conference mark and landed Cornell in second-to-last place in the league.
The coaching staff believes that, with the abundance of seniors on the roster, the 2008 squad will have the experience and composure necessary to compete for the Ivy League title.
“I think every year our goals are probably the same,” said assistant coach Joe Schneck. “At the end of the day, you want to make the National tournament.”
Despite the Red’s high hopes for this season, the squad has not been happy with its start to the 2008 campaign. The Red sits at 1-6. In the Red’s seven matches, the team has managed to score just three goals while surrendering 18 goals. Scales explained that after the team’s rough start, he started to mix up the lineup in hopes of sparking some chemistry on the field.
“After we lost, 4-0, to Albany, we felt like we had to make a bunch of different changes,” Scales said. “The captains and the seniors and I sat down and we talked over a few things and made some changes. So we took some forwards and put them in the back and in the midfield and moved some guys around.”
In that vein, senior Dana Flanders has moved from forward to defender; senior co-captain Joe Yonga plays back but leads the offense as well with two goals this season.
Although the Red has registered just three goals to date, there were high expectations for its attacking unit coming into the season. Senior co-captain David Browning returned from injury to join junior Matt Bouraee, last year’s team leader in goals, assists and points.
However, the Red has run into some early trouble with injuries. Senior midfielder Miyad Movassaghi is out for the season, while Browning and fifth-year senior co-captain Jarid Siegal have fallen victim to injury.
“[Browning’s] body is breaking down, and he’s got the knees of an 80-year-old man,” Scales said. “So whatever he gives us is great, we just have to wait and see how he feels during the week. He wants to be out there, there’s no doubt about it. It’s killing him to be sitting on the bench, and we really could use his presence. But we’re not going to jeopardize his long-term health for this. He’s really in a lot of pain.”
At midfield, junior J.J. Bain, sophomore Matt Stengel and freshman Jimmy Lannon, among others, will all receive significant minutes.
“We lost an important cog in the midfield which was [Aaron Vieira ’07],” Schneck said. “Another guy that graduated was our first-team All-Ivy guy [Brian Kuritzky ’07]. … Obviously, you miss guys like that. But that being said, we have had guys step in and fill roles and they are on their way to becoming as good players as [last year’s seniors] were.”
The defense is left without four-year start­er Kyle Lynch ’07, who was the team’s most consistent presence in the backfield last year.
Both Flanders and Yonga have received substantial time on defense in the Red’s rotation.
“We lost Kyle Lynch who was a great player here who had a lot of intensity so we are missing that,” said sophomore goaltender Scott Brody. “But Dana [Flanders] has been a good player back for the past two games, so I think we’ll be alright.”
Perhaps the Red has the most depth at its last line of defense, where four goalkeepers will be vying for playing time. In addition to Brody, seniors Luca Cerretani and Steve Lesser and freshman Anthony Ponikvar will all be looking to shut out the opposition.
Thus far, Scales has been relying on Brody, who has started in five consecutive games. Brody believes that the competition for the No. 1 spot has elevated the game of each keeper.
“We always push each other to be better,” Brody said.