Four games into its season, the Penn men's soccer team has yet to perform spectacularly. The Quakers' current 2-2 record includes both wins over St. Francis (Pa.) and East Carolina and lopsided losses to American and Richmond. The Quakers, however, still have good reason to be optimistic about the rest of the season. For the first time since 1997, the Red and Blue are ranked in the Mid-Atlantic region top ten, earning the No. 10 spot in a poll that includes powerhouse teams such as Penn State and Pittsburgh. Also, Penn junior John Salvucci and sophomores William Lee and William Libby were named to the All-Tournament team after their performances at Richmond last weekend. Penn coach Rudy Fuller believes that his team's new ranking will give it a much-needed ego boost for the rest of the season -- specifically in today's Ivy opener against Cornell in Ithaca, N.Y. "[Cornell] is an important game on a number of different fronts," Fuller said. "The guys are trying to prove that they deserve that ranking and they want to continue moving up. Our guys are looking at this game as a statement game. They want to make a statement to the rest of the league that they're not a team to be reckoned with." Though all the Ivy teams will pose challenges to the Quakers, Cornell is not regarded as one of the tougher squads in the Ancient Eight. Like Penn, the Big Red currently hold a 2-2 record. After opening its season with victories over Boston University and Adelphi, Cornell fell to both Vanderbilt and St. Louis last weekend. Penn midfielder Alex Maasry remembers last year's faceoff with Cornell as being a dull game for both teams. Nonetheless, it was the Big Red that left Penn's Rhodes Field with a 2-0 win. "It was disappointing because we could have easily won," Maasry said. "Cornell wasn't that strong, but we never got going as a team." After Penn's loss to Richmond last Friday, the Quakers have analyzed their weaknesses and discussed what they have to do to avoid making the same mistakes that have cost them games. Both Fuller and Penn junior goalie Jeff Groeber believe that the Quakers' losses to American and Richmond were due to mental breakdowns. "[In the American and Richmond games], we had chances in the beginning that would have changed the game completely," Groeber said. "But we had a few mental breakdowns that cost us goals, and [those goals] cost us the game." When they face Cornell tonight, the Quakers will focus on finishing their chances and putting the game away early. Maasry also noted the importance of staying strong throughout the entire game. "In some games we play well for 80 minutes and aren't focused for 10 minutes," Maasry said. "Hopefully we can put in a 90-minute performance." Though Penn starting midfielder Nathan Kennedy dislocated his knee in practice last week, it has not yet been decided whether he will be able to play in tonight's game. "If [Kennedy] can play, it will definitely help our chances a lot," Maasry said.Comments powered by Disqus
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