During the Cornell men’s soccer game against Oregon State on Sunday, junior midfielder Madison Hack saw an opportunity just when his team needed one.
“The ball was played across the box, bouncing to me on the top of the 18 [yard line] on the left side,” Hack said.
Instead of shooting from the top of the box, Hack sent an arcing pass to other side of the field in hope of connecting with a teammate.
“But my cross wasn’t good enough,” Hack said.
In a match that was closer than the final score would suggest, the Red (0-5-0) lost to Oregon State, 2-0.
Tuesday night’s 1-0 loss to next-door rival Binghamton (4-2-0) was similarly dramatic and agonizingly close. Hack, a self-critical upperclassman leader, took blame for another crucial missed opportunity that could have tied the score late in the game. On a free-kick opportunity, instead of playing one of his teammates, Hack did what he had wished to do against Oregon State — he went for the goal.
“I missed it far,” Hack said. “We will not get back that chance to tie up the game.”
Such has been the story for Cornell men’s soccer so far this season. The low scoring nature of soccer more generally comes with an emphasis on timely capitalization. Because opportunities in soccer are so hard to come by, one botched finish is often a fatal mistake.
“We need to execute better,” said head coach Jaro Zawislan. “We’ve been creating opportunities and playing well but games have been decided by one key play or a few key plays.”
However, Zawislan is not focused on the past. Rather, he is focused on his own team’s improvements. Zawislan would also like to see in this year’s squad the defensive dominance that characterized Cornell last year. In 2014, the Red recorded 11 shutouts, the highest season total in program history.
Zawislan says matter of factly, “Every game, our goal is to get a shutout and we haven’t done that yet.”
Even with an 0-5 record, the team has not lowered its aspirations at all.
“Our goal is still to win an Ivy League Title and get an NCAA Tournament bid,” Zawislan said.
With Ivy League play yet to start, these dreams are still very achievable — especially if the team makes the improvements that Zawislan has in mind.
“We need to be more clinical with our finishes,” Zawislan said.
Hack added, “The team has learned that we need to plug up a few holes and play more as a unit.”
Despite frustration, the team’s attitude remains positive and goal-oriented.
“After this start, the team could not have any more drive and hunger to turn things around,” said junior midfielder and forward Jack Ferguson. “The record we have right now is not representative of the talent we have on this team and we couldn’t be more eager to prove that.”
This weekend, the team will get a chance to show what it’s got. Cornell will host the C.U. Inaria Cup at Berman Field, where the Red will face Duquesne at 7 p.m. on tonight, and Air Force at 1 p.m. on Sunday.
“This weekend, we expect nothing less than two tallies in the win column,” Ferguson said.