When talking about the men’s soccer program, head coach Jaro Zawislan always returns to a belief that his team is not made up of one or two star players, but rather the team itself is a star with all of the individual players contributing their own unique talents to the finished product. Many an athlete has probably heard the expression about one person making a difference and the power of a group of determined people to change the course of history. These words could serve as the unofficial motto for a Cornell squad that has fought back from a slow start to take a one-game lead in the Ivy League.
Over the weekend, Cornell (8-1-3, 3-0 Ivy League) extended its unbeaten streak to 11 games in a shutout victory, 2-0, away against Yale (6-5-1, 2-1). Saturday’s game determined which team would be the early leader in the Ivy league standings; however, just one year ago, this contest decided which team would end its season ranked last in the Ancient Eight. Cornell secured its first win against the Bulldogs since 2006 and, for the first time in 16 years, holds a 3-0 record in conference play.
“We came into this game more confident,” said sophomore striker Daniel Haber. “We always feel like we have to put in all of the work during the game to get a result. After the Penn game we were shocked that we won. In the Harvard game we were starting to build it [and] now we feel like we should be winning — that it would be a disappointment with didn’t win. I think that confidence helps us.”
The Red approached the game against Yale with its usual attack-heavy style, with one goal in mind: creating scoring opportunities. The squad came out guns blazing with two goals in the first 25 minutes of play.
“Yale is a great team,” said sophomore defender Jake Rinow. “It was a battle the whole game. We scored two goals early and they couldn’t come back from that. We all worked as a team defense and packed it in so they couldn’t penetrate.”
On the first goal, senior midfielder and captain Jimmy Lannon connected off a goal kick by junior keeper Rick Pflasterer, allowing him to send the ball to senior forward Will Ogden, who immediately found junior striker Tyler Regan running up the right side of the field. Regan, who was subbed into the game less than a minute before, took advantage of the open grass in front of him to slide the ball past Yale’s keeper, successfully notching his second goal of the year and earning Ogden his first point of the season on the assist.
“Rick nailed a great goal kick; he got all of the ball,” Regan said of his goal. “Jimmy is very successful winning head balls and has done that all year; he flicked it on and it went to Will Ogden who played me a stellar ball — that was all the work. They made it really easy.”
With just six minutes elapsed on the game clock, Haber put another point up for the Red after Lannon found him after forcing a turnover. The Red extended its lead and maintained the two-goal margin for the remainder of the game. The defensive line played a key role in staving off the goal-hungry Bulldogs. Pflasterer blocked only four shots on goal for the entire 90 minutes of play, a true credit to the back line power of Rinow, freshman Peter Chodas, sophomore Patrick Slogic and senior Kyle Parsons.
“We’ve been solid,” Slogic said. “We worked a lot over the season to get to know how we work together and how we work individually. We each take care of our jobs defensively so when it all comes together I think we really have a strong defense.”
The tight defense was able to force Yale out of shooting range and help Pflasterer earn his sixth personal shutout of the season — the team’s seventh.
“We’ve been doing pretty well, with seven shutouts, so we can’t really ask for anything more than that,” Rinow said of the Red’s keepers.
Cornell’s record has been steadily improving as the season progresses, with the team reaching important milestones along the way. For the first time since 1996, Cornell is seven games above .500. This accomplishment also coincides with Zawislan improving his career record to three games over .500.