This season marks the beginning of a long journey for the Cornell men’s soccer team. After a tough season last year, a summer of training and a new coach eager to transform the team from the ground up, the men’s team is bound to be an exciting contender in the Ivy League and beyond.
With sights on an Ivy League title, the Red wasted no time getting back into hard, intense training to prepare for their upcoming season.
“We started training on Friday and this is our first day off,” junior forward Jonathan Cullom said this past Tuesday. “We’ve done four days of two-a-days.”
This intensity could very well be driven by their deep understanding of their need for improvement from last year’s performance, where the Red finished with a record of 4-12-1 (2-5 Ivy).
“Last year we definitely didn’t realize some of the goals we had set,” said Cullom. “This year we’re really focused on both individual and team goals, and tackling each milestone on the long journey we have this year.”
This journey will be led by new head coach John Smith, who just last year helped lead Stanford to its first NCAA title in the program’s history. So far, Smith’s new players have been impressed with what he has done in his short time with them.
“He’s been outstanding,” Cullom said. “He brought in an assistant coach from Stanford and another coach, Glenn Buckley. All three of them have been fantastic in creating a great culture. They’ve done a great job bringing each other closer together as a squad.”
According to Smith, this culture is absolutely key in forming a winning team.
“I think the most important thing with any team is developing a winning culture,” he said. “Recruiting people that have the right character traits — the right work ethic and the right personality — is key. This is a sport where things go wrong quite often, and if you don’t have those character traits, then you’ll go south and the whole team will go south.”
Though Smith is excited to see how his team develops, he knows that the team has a long, transformational journey ahead.
“It will take time,” Smith said. “There will be guys that won’t buy into it. I don’t think it’s ingrained yet. It took time at Stanford.”
Whatever the time-frame, Smith is still eager for this season, optimistic about his team’s chances for success and the opportunities they will have to make substantial improvements from last year.
“This is a challenging league, but also one that you can really genuinely go for,” Smith said. “From the outset it is a tough schedule, but we’ll be prepared for each game, and once again we’re looking at this year as a chance for long term growth.”
The Red is hoping the Cornell community comes out in droves this season to support them in what is bound to be an exciting season.
“We are definitely trying to get our fan base more heavily involved,” Cullom said. “It always helps the team perform better when we are playing in a good soccer environment — we really feed off the fans’ energy.”
The Red faces off against Central Covnnecticut State University on September 2 for their season opener at home on the newly renovated Berman Field.