October 28, 2008

Red Makes Midweek Roadtrip to Hartwick

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The men’s soccer team may not even have time to unpack its bags after returning from Brown on Sunday because the squad will be on the road once again tonight, this time traveling to Oneonta, N.Y., to face off against Hartwick College (5-4-5, 1-1-1 MAC). The Red (1-12, 0-4 Ivy) has dropped its past seven contests, and will be the visiting team for the third consecutive game.
“The past three weeks or so have been pretty difficult because we have had midweek games,” said Red senior co-captain Joe Yonga. “We have been having two games a week and there has been a lot of traveling on the road. It is difficult being on the road, but it is something that you have to handle every year and you try to just take it in stride.”[img_assist|nid=33059|title=Fancy footwork|desc=Freshman Jimmy Lannon (23) tries to juke a defender. Lannon has one assist on the year.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Sophomore forward Scott Caldwell notes that while the traveling may be physically and mentally draining, the Red players devote their full concentration to soccer when they are on the road.
“Our coaches help us focus a lot,” Caldwell said. “On long bus rides, they’ll have soccer games playing on the TVs on the bus, we are constantly around soccer, and [our coaches] are constantly reminding us to stay focused on soccer.”
The Red took Sunday off to recuperate from the long trip back from Providence, R.I., but the squad returned to practice yesterday. While the team only had one day of training to devote specifically to preparing for Hartwick, Caldwell believes that his team will be primed come kick-off tonight.
“We have just been recovering from Brown,” Caldwell said. “We needed a rest-day just to get our muscles back to peak. This late in the season, our bodies are used to the wear-and-tear of a tough schedule like this. We will still be ready for [tonight’s] game. At this point in the season, we know what we have to do in the game and we are all very comfortable playing with each other.”
The Red has just four games remaining in the season, and this matchup against Hartwick represents the Red’s last non-conference game. To this point, Cornell is 1-8 in non-conference games and will be looking to improve on that record tonight.
The Red will be going up against a Hartwick team that is undefeated at home with a 5-0-1 record on its Elmore Field. The Hawks have had modest offensive success this year, scoring 16 goals in 14 games. However, the majority of the Hawks’ goals have come in the 1st half, with 11 of those 16 scores occuring in the opening 45 minutes of games.
The Hartwick attack is led by senior forward John Paul Boyle, who leads team offensively with five goals and 12 points. Sophomore goalkeeper Jeremy Vuolo has been the consistent backstop for the Hawks this year and has posted a 0.97 GAA along with five shutouts.
In their 13 total games so far this season, the Red has managed to score just 6 goals while surrendering 33 to its opponents. Yonga and Caldwell recognize that both the team’s defense and offense need to drastically step up their execution in order for the team to have any success in its four remaining games.
“It all starts with the defense,” said Yonga. “That has kind of been our weak-point on the year. Whether it is our team-shape defensively or how we match up on restarts, we really want to get better and hold other teams to, ideally, no goals so that we can give our offense a chance to win the game for us.”
The Red’s offense has now been shut out in three consecutive games, including Saturday’s 2-0 loss to Brown. However, Caldwell explained that the attack has created many scoring chances, but that its lack of finish and touch has prevented the Red from getting any consistent scoring.
“Brown is a great team,” Caldwell said. “I think we played a great game and we had chances [against them]. We were playing the ball well, but we just didn’t get goals. We just need to improve on finishing and I think we should be able to get a win at Hartwick.”