It wasn’t supposed to be this way for the men’s soccer team.
The Red began the season with high hopes. Led by dynamic senior Richard Stimpson, the team sensed that an Ancient Eight crown was in its reach. A pre-season trip to England, the land of fairy tales was suppose to be the pre-cursor to a magical season.
After a disappointing loss to Dartmouth last weekend which officially dashed the booter’s championship ambitions, the club travels into the Lion’s den to face Columbia. The Lions edged the Green in a 2-1 overtime thriller earlier in the season
The booters will need to avoid the lethargic start that has plagued their campaign. They took a forty-five minute slumber before awakening in the second half against the Big Green.
Rather, the Red must capitalize on the intensity that was present in the second half of action of that game. Senior Jay Rosen has been phenomenal in the second half of the season. After turning in a stellar three-goal effort against Army, he scored Cornell’s lone goal off a well-placed lead pass from Stimpson.
Cornell played admirably in the second half. With sophomore Carlos Rodriguez patrolling the action between the pipes, the club was able to settle down defensively and create several potent offensive chances.
The strikers must come out early though if the Red wishes to be successful in New York City. Columbia’s defense has been impenetrable at times. The Lions have recorded several impressive shutouts. The squad blanked Princeton and Adelphi, and held league foes Dartmouth and Harvard to just one goal. Hartwick, which pummeled the Red 7-2, was another one of the club’s shutout victims.
Columbia concluded the season with eleven wins, its highest total in any campaign in the decade.
This year’s squad featured seven returning starters including highly touted netminder Matt Hill. The stalwart was ninth in the nation in goals-against average.
The Lions lead by Leslie Fitzpatrick who has been an All-Ivy honoree twice in his career. Rookie Tommy McMenemy has the potential to stake himself as a serious scoring threat.
But Hill will be the predominant obstacle for the Red. He owns the experience of backing up 2000 Olympic team member Matt Napoleon. He accrued nine shutouts in rout to compiling a .670 goals-against average.
Columbia enters the contest with a 3-2-1 Ivy League mark, good enough for third place in the conference. The Red is one slot behind, owning a 3-3-0 record.
The game will be the final for the eight seniors on the Red’s squad. Each of the elder statesman has left an indelible mark on the program. Although unable to capture a crown, the group has helped mold a talented corps of freshmen who will ensure Cornell a bright future.
Archived article by Gary Schueller