Nine-hundred and eighty three fans packed into the stands Saturday afternoon at Berman Field, excited for what was projected to be a great day of men’s soccer. The Brown Bears (7-4-2, 2-1-1 Ivy League) entered Ithaca fresh off a victory at Harvard, hungry for another conference win. Cornell (8-1-4, 3-0-1), equally confident after last weekend’s 2-0 win over Yale, was prepared to battle in hopes of maintaining a perfect record in Ivy play. True to the unpredictable nature of the league, both teams fought for 90 regulation minutes and 20 extra overtime minutes before settling for a tie, 1-1.
“I feel like that game could have gone either way, so a tie is not a bad result for us,” said junior goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer.
Throughout the season, head coach Jaro Zawislan has described his team’s efforts to achieve a positive result in every match. Though the squad never hopes for a tie, Saturday’s results were definitely not negative in the team’s eyes.
“We never play for ties; however, when you look at the game it was a very good Ivy League game with quality teams on both sides of the field,” Zawislan said. “It took a quality effort from both sides to get this type of result. Both teams did enough to get something out of the game and both teams did enough to win the game, too.”
The two Ivy squads entered the game fairly evenly matched. Brown has been a powerhouse school when it comes to the soccer scene in recent years and Cornell has proven that it can stand the heat given its current 12-game unbeaten streak. As many players said coming into the match, the contest was certain to be a challenge.
“Today’s game was a battle on both sides of the ball,” said sophomore midfielder Stephen Reisert. “Everyone was fighting hard ... obviously we wanted to come out with a win, but a tie is fine.”
Reisert scored the Red’s lone goal of the day, capitalizing off a corner kick by sophomore striker Daniel Haber and strong footwork by freshman defender Peter Chodas. Reisert was able to head the ball into the net behind Brown keeper Sam Kernan-Schloss. However, the Red was unable to celebrate for very long, as the Bears rallied to tie less than three minutes later.
“Soccer is an unpredictable game that can go both ways at any time,” Reisert said. “Right after we score is always the most dangerous time for another team. It’s unfortunate that they scored, but we were definitely up.”
“We had some quality chances besides the goal we scored and Brown had some at the end of the game too,” Zawislan added.
The defense on both ends of the field was on point for the remainder of the game. Each side was shutting down and closing up any holes in the back line and playing a tighter game.
“Our defense was outstanding as usual,” Haber said. “We gave [Brown] barely any chances in the game.”
Both goalkeepers fought to stay in the game the entire 110 minutes of play, with Brown’s keeper notching three major saves to Pflasterer’s four.
“We just have to be one our toes,” Pflasterer said. “I think that [Brown] played a good ball with great service and a good finish — we knew that was what they were good at though. We need to be a bit sharper, me as well, on the corner kick — just be ready for what they have to serve us.”
With the largest crowd in attendance that the team has ever seen, the energy surrounding the field was electrifying.
“Brown is a powerhouse school that over the past four years has been dominating the soccer scene,” Reisert said. “A credit to our guys. We’ve been fighting hard all season with the 11-game unbeaten streak. It was definitely a battle ... on both sides.”
The Red, now on a 12-game unbeaten streak, is tied currently for the longest streak in the nation with New Mexico. This also marks the longest undefeated streak that the team has held since Nov. 12, 1995. Though the tie may not have been the end result the team was hoping for, some players are taking positives away from the game.
“We could have done more,” Haber explained. “At the beginning of the season I would have said, ‘If we could tie Brown, I’d be satisfied.’ But now, I’m not satisfied, but I’m not angry about it.
“We still are in first place for the Ivy League, but with close chances like that we would have liked to come out with the win. We’re definitely not angry about [the result]. It’s not negative. It’s definitely still positive, but we will keep our heads held high.”
The players kept their heads high throughout the entire game, never dropping the level of intensity or attack. Even through the two overtime periods, the players continued to push Brown’s defense, looking to put the game-winner on the scoreboard.
“In overtime I felt we started creating really good momentum, especially in the second overtime when we started creating opportunities one after the other,” Zawislan said. “We didn’t get the goal, but it was good to see them play until the last minute of play. We were going after a win and no one was content to just play for the last five or ten minutes of the second overtime. They weren’t satisfied just taking one point each.”