When you first meet Ian Pilarski and Colin Nevison, the first thing you try to do is figure out how to tell them apart. They’re both sophomores on the men’s soccer team. They each have blond hair, blue eyes, and sometimes they even finish each other’s sentences.
“Everyone confuses us with two blond guys on the field,” said Pilarski, right before Nevison chimed in, “because last year we played opposite sides. He was on the right, I was on the left. People have a hard time telling us apart.”
In a few years they might be a little easier to distinguish from each other. But both are already well on their way to making their mark on Cornell soccer history. After just one year at Cornell, the two sophomores are already the acitve second and third-leading scorers on the team.
This season, after the loss of last year’s top five scorers to graduation, Nevison and Pilarski will have to fill those shoes and will be counted on to play an important role on the team in only their second year.
“I expect them to emerge slowly — maybe not so slowly,” says head coach Bryan Scales, correcting himself. “But I expect them to emerge as two of the most dangerous players in our league.”
Pilarski, who played right midfield last season, is moving into the middle this year, while Nevison will step up from left midfield to forward. Both of them have worked hard in the off-season to improve their games and make the necessary adjustments.
“I had to work on a little field vision and also technique and skill,” said Pilarski.
“I’ve been trying to get stronger, because I play up top now, and I play against some big guys,” remarked Nevison.
The duo has been playing soccer together for more than just their one year on the East Hill. They spent several years playing club soccer for the Syracuse Blitz Arsenal, as well as being teammates on the Olympic Development Program regional team. But neither one of them realized that the other was thinking about playing college soccer at Cornell.
“We didn’t plan on coming here [together], but it worked out well,” recalled Pilarski.
“We were fortunate to have them both attend Cornell,” Scales admitted. “They’re almost the prototypical Cornell soccer player in that they love to play, they’re very competitive, they have good feet, they’re both attacking-minded guys who can put other teams under pressure.”
As similar as the two appear off the field, on the field they play the game with different styles. Pilarski brings a good deal of athleticism to the pitch and can pass the ball extremely well. Nevison, who scored his first collegiate goal on his first collegiate shot in last year’s opener against Boston University, has a strong shot from the left and plays at a high “speed of thought,” as Scales put it.
So, how good are these two? Scales believes that they have a chance at making All-Ivy this year, something no Cornellian has done since Rick Stimpson ’01 in 1997. Stimpson graduated last year as the third leading scorer in school history.
“They’re both not the finished product yet, but they are both guys that we count on to push the team and do well and help us win games,” said Scales.
While the future of the program looks quite bright with Nevison and Pilarski at the head of their class, the two sophomores clearly want to win now.
“Team goals?” Pilarski responds when you ask him what he’s shooting for.
“Make the tournament,” answers Nevison.
“Yeah, make the tournament, win the Ivy League, get one of those nice rings,” agrees Pilarski.
“I think we have a good shot this year,” concluded Nevison.
Archived article by Alex Fineman