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Engineers Take Weekend Off, Focus on No. 1 Miami

By Ed Weaver

Troy Record, December 7, 2007

TROY - The last time Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute had an entire week off following a huge victory, the Engineers didn't play poorly upon their return, but they were nearly beaten by one of the nation's weakest teams - American International College - rallying for a 1-1 tie on Paul Kerins' goal with 3:19 remaining in the game.

A loss in that game would have been among with worst in RPI history.

The Engineers had exploded offensively for seven goals on Nov. 10 and whipped Dartmouth, 7-4, for their first regular-season victory at Dartmouth since Nov. 13, 1998. They were then idle until Nov. 23 when they hosted AIC in the first round of the Rensselaer Holiday Tournament.

On Tuesday, RPI downed 13th-ranked Harvard, 4-2, which head coach Seth Appert termed the "biggest win in our one and a half years here."

The Engineers don't have a full week off from play this time but they do enjoy another weekend off before hosting No. 1-ranked Miami on Dec. 15 and 16.

Unless the Red Hawks are swept this weekend by 1-8-1 Alaska, they'll almost certainly be No. 1 again when they come to Troy.

Still, it's wondered if the Engineers will again be adversely affected by the layoff as they seemingly were against AIC.

"Well, I think we underestimated our opponent a little bit, and they came out and played very well," Kerins said of AIC.

"I think we'll be a lot more ready," Kerins said. "You have to be ready for Miami. They're a great team."

And the Red Hawks' No. 1 national ranking should be a big motivator the Engineers (or any team), Kerins said.

"For sure, it should be a motivator, playing No. 1," he said. "I'd like top think we're motivated for every game but no matter what anyone says or thinks, when you play against the top team, you're a little more motivated."

"I don't think so," said junior left winger Kurt Colling. "All of us involved kind of learned from that. We were all of the mindset of, We haven't had a weekend off throughout our college careers.' It was a learning experience for us."

"I think we're going to come back (this time) really focused," Colling said. "I don't think we did last time, as well as we should have."

Many players, as Colling did, expressed the thought that the team learned a lesson from the near disaster against AIC.

"I think we definitely learned from that two-week layoff," said assistant captain Andrew Lord. "We did try to keep the intensity (against AIC) but it's tough, with no games, waiting to play."

Previously, RPI teams had a layoff of varying degrees in mid-to-late December until the first weekend in January - most other teams did as well - but the layoff after the Dartmouth game was the first in-semester such break for the Engineers.

"No worries," said Jonathan Ornelas, also an assistant captain. "The coaches are a lot more prepared, will have us a lot more prepared, this time. I know I hadn't had a weekend off before that one."

"It's only a week and a half this time," said junior center Matt Angers-Goulet, "And we know what to expect, so I don't think we're concerned with it at all."

This time, Lord pointed out, "guys have exams to get through."

Any big plans for Friday and/or Saturday nights?

"I got nothing," Colling laughed.

"Read a book," said Lord.

"Depends on what coach puts on our plate (practice-wise)," Kerins said.

"Ah, relax and study," said Ornelas.