By SHAN DHALIWAL
Coming off of a loss to Navy two weeks ago, the Cornell sprint football team travelled down to Waterbury, Connecticut, this past Friday to take on Post University in its final game of the season. Head coach Bart Guccia has stressed the importance of finishing all year long in practices and games and — although the Red (4-3-0) did not finish the season with a league championship — the team certainly finished strong.
“Our preseason goals were to possibly win the championship, but that didn’t come to fruition,” Guccia said. “We had our chances in the games we lost but made a few mistakes at critical times that ended up hurting us, but one thing about this team is that they never quit.”
With junior quarterback Rob Pannullo out with an ACL tear, freshman quarterback Connor Ostrander stepped up to lead the Red to victory. He had his best game of the season, completing 9-13 passes for 152 passing yards and rushing for an additional 52 yards. He also had three touchdowns.
“He did an excellent job of managing the game, and we were able to run the ball extremely well,” Guccia said.
Junior running back Kevin Nathanson had another big game, with 123 rushing yards and an additional 98 receiving yards. Senior running back Benjamin Herrera added an additional 87 rushing yards. In this way, it was the Red’s offense that carried the team to victory.
“Offensively we played very very well,” Guccia said. “Defensively, our first possession wasn’t very good but after that, they stepped up and shut them out. It was a good team win.”
Senior wide receiver Trevor Marrero, who caught a 23-yard touchdown pass from Ostrander early in the third quarter, agreed with Guccia on the reason for the team’s solid performance.
“We ran the ball very effectively, and after their first drive, our defense shut them out,” Marrero said. “Our offensive line played an amazing game and Connor [Ostrander] made great decisions with the ball.”
Marrero is one of the many valuable seniors the team will lose next year. With 22 seniors on the team this year, the roster will look much different in the 2016 season.
“We have to fill those holes, and hopefully we pick up some good recruits and we have a very sound starting point going into next season,” Guccia said. “They [will] have to come through and work hard in the offseason so that they can get stronger.”
Finishing with a winning record this year is something the Red has not accomplished since 2012. Although the team’s goal each year is to win a championship, Guccia understands that simply taking the season one game at a time and looking to improve week by week is the best way to approach a season.
He emphasized that the goals for next season are the same as with any other season.
“Our goal always with any season is to try and win a championship, but the key thing is for [the players] to improve each day in practice and improve each week in games,” he said. “If they can do that, then we can have a very successful season.”
The Red will take the positive momentum from this game into preparation for next season and again, set its sights on a league championship.
“While we fell short of going undefeated, by the end of the season we were executing at a high level on both sides of the ball,” Marrero said. “Our main goal all year was to finish [and] we definitely did that against Post.”