October 24, 2008

Red Looks for First Ivy Win

Print More

The men’s soccer team will continue its stretch of road games in Providence, R.I., this weekend, with hopes of wrestling away its first Ivy League win of the season against host Brown tomorrow.
The Red (1-11, 0-3 Ivy) is currently on a six-game losing skid in which the squad has dropped games to Ivy foes Penn, Harvard and Yale. Tomorrow, Cornell will be going up against Brown (8-4-1, 2-1), the defending Ivy League Champions after finishing 7-0-0 in 2007 conference play. This year’s edition of the Bears features several returning players from last year’s lineup, but it is also missing some key elements — particularly 2007 Ivy League Player of the Year Matt Britner.
In last year’s matchup between these two teams, Brown came out on top with a 3-1 victory on Berman Field. This year, the Red is looking to exact some revenge as it heads to Stevenson Field in Providence.
“We know Brown’s style of play,” said senior defender Dana Flanders. “Obviously, we play them every year. They are a very big, physical, athletic team and I would expect practice this week to be geared towards a really physical battle in the air and on the ground.”
Assistant coach Joe Schneck explained that Brown is a team that likes to jump into a high-intensity style right off of the whistle. He noted that the Red will have to be weary of that so as to avoid getting caught off guard early.
“They are going to be high-tempo, trying to get it down the field and trying to pin you in,” Schneck said. “We have watched a little bit of their Harvard game and [Brown] comes out flying. They are going to be at home and they are coming off of a few tough results themselves over the past week. We are going to have to be ready from the start because they are not going to be coming out flat. We just have to be sure that we match their intensity from the start and be tuned on right from the get-go defensively and move on from there.”[img_assist|nid=32956|title=Watch your head|desc=Junior Brian Donovan (14) challenges a ball during a Sept. 17 loss to Albany, 4-0.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
The 2008 Bears have gotten off to a solid start in Ivy play, winning their first two games. However, Brown then suffered a crushing 4-1 loss to Harvard in Providence that sent the Bears to their current second-place spot in the Ancient Eight. Brown then followed up that loss with a defeat in its latest game, a 1-0 loss to Hartwick College.
Flanders knows that his team will be put to the test against Brown. Despite the Red’s 1-11 record, Flanders and his teammates have no trouble being optimistic heading into a tough matchup.
“I don’t think it’s hard to stay confident,” said Flanders. “We play a Division I sport here. We are all extremely competitive athletes. I think if anything, we will just rise to the challenge knowing that [Brown] is a really good team and that if we don’t play our best they will beat us, especially playing at Brown.”
Brown boasts a balanced attack that, so far this year, has been anchored by senior Rhett Bernstein, who was a Soccer America PreSeason All-American. Bernstein has racked up four goals and a total of 10 points so far this season. Bernstein works along side two other snipers, Jon Okafor and Nick Elenz-Martin, who have each notched two goals apiece in 2008. Flanders expects the Bears to come out playing very physically, something which he believes his team should be able to handle.
“I think it will be a very interesting matchup because we do have some height and we have some athletes, but we also have a lot of skill players,” Flanders explained. “… Then, when we do get the chance, we’ll have to move it down, get the ball down and move it quickly, which I think is one of our strengths. It will be important not to shy away from those physical battles.”
The Red has had trouble scoring all season long, but Schneck believes that the squad does indeed have some great offensive potential, including junior forward Matt Bouraee, who scored nine goals last year but has registered just two this season.
“[Bouraee] had a few great chances [on Tuesday] against Colgate and wasn’t able to finish those so I think that he is a guy who is due for a big game, so hopefully he’ll be able to break out of the slump that he’s been in. He’s a guy that we are expecting things out of on Saturday night.”