M. soccer looks to snap offensive skid in Ithaca

Upstate New York is a long way from New Haven. So is the end of the season for the men’s soccer team.

Tonight, Yale (4-7-1, 1-2 Ivy) will take on last place Cornell (1-5-3, 0-2-1) in Ithaca in the Bulldogs’ fourth Ivy League game of the season. In a must-win situation, the Elis look to improve their disappointing offensive output but remain optimistic about their season.

“We’re trying to bring the intensity from practice onto the playing field,” forward Alex Munns ’07 said.

The Bulldogs have had problems finding the back of the net in the past few games and have been outscored 11 to four in their last four contests. In practice this past week, they focused on competing in the offensive third and preventing goals inside the 18, goalkeeper Erik Geiger ’08 said.

“We’re trying to shut down shots inside the box,” he said. “Then again, we’re not scoring when we get to the opponent’s box.”

The Big Red does have one of the best defenses in the Ivy League, Yale head coach Brian Tompkins said. Cornell is second only to Penn in the Ancient Eight for goals allowed, surrendering only 0.67 goals per game. Tompkins echoed his players in emphasizing the focus on offense before heading to Ithaca tonight.

“We’re not satisfied with the amount of goal scoring chances we’ve created,” he said. “We want to really get them under some pressure [on Friday].”

But before the Elis even have a shot to size up their competition, the team had to endure the biennial, six-hour bus ride last night just to get to Cornell. Despite the long ride, the squad always finds ways to entertain themselves. Bus rides are usually relaxing, and the players do homework, watch movies or sleep, Munns said.

“We usually watch bad movies, which are fun,” Munns said. “They’re just painful to watch. Hopefully we’ll watch some good movies.”

Munns also mentioned one important traveling tradition.

“Me, [captain and midfielder] Jordan [Rieger ’07], [defender] Evan Stone [’07] and [forward Liam] Leonard [’09] are going to play hearts, because we always play hearts,” he said.

After the long trip, the Bulldogs will once again focus on their play and, in particular, their offense. Yale typically scores only once or twice a game, but the squad can usually fall back on its rock-solid defense. Munns said he is confident that his team will be able to snap its recent slide.

“We’re just trying to get everybody competing and working hard,” he said. “There’s no reason we should be losing.”

Although the Big Red, without a win in league play, is the bottom dweller of the Ivy standings, the Elis will not overlook them this weekend.

“Any Ivy win is important, and that’s what we’ll be going for this Saturday,” Geiger said.

Though things have looked somewhat bleak in the last few days, a win in Ithaca can revive some title hopes.

“We still have some control of our destiny,” Tompkins said.

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