On Thursday, the men’s soccer team will begin its 2012 season by traveling to the west coast to compete against California State at Fullerton on Friday night. The team hopes to do well in its season opener to set the tone for the season to come.
“We’re optimistic about what’s ahead of us,” said junior midfielder Stephen Reisert. “I think we can go out there and really get off to a good start.”
According to Reisert, the players returned to Cornell on August 16th to begin their preseason-training program. The entire team practiced together, motivating each other to work hard and play to the best of their abilities.
“Preseason was the best since I’ve been here,” said junior forward Daniel Haber. “Unlike the other preseasons, we didn’t really have to start from step one. Everyone was five steps ahead of where we were last year, and it looks a lot better.”
Haber cited the ending of last season as a reason for the new level of intensity during preseason. The squad ended its season last year with a heartbreak; after a 13 game undefeated streak, the team tied Columbia 1-1 in its final match, losing its chance to claim the Ivy League Championship title.
“All throughout the spring you could see a different intensity in us,” Haber said. “Everyone knew that we came very close, but we just didn’t get it done. Everyone has a different type of focus this year.”
“Pretty much there’s a consensus throughout the entire team that we’re going for the Ivy League Title and nothing else,” Reisert added. “We’re hungry from last year and we’re just gonna go after it.”
This year, the squad boasts predominantly returning players, with three seniors, nine juniors and nine sophomores all returning to competition. The team has added four freshmen since the spring season who, while inexperienced, are certainly up to the challenge of representing Cornell this weekend.
“We’ve been very happy with the freshman coming in,” said head coach Jaro Zawislan. “From the time they committed to our program, came to Cornell, and represent us on the soccer field, they haven’t been falling behind the returning group. That created a very competitive preseason, with everyone pushing each other to the next level.”
The freshmen will need to step up soon if they wish to help Cornell with its season this year. The Red is in for a long season; it plays 17 games in total, with nine at home and 12 within New York State. This weekend alone is fraught with travel, as the Red will compete against Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif. this Sunday.
“Once we play those games on the weekend, the field will verify where we are compared to those particular teams, and then we need to keep getting better.” Zawislan said. “We are where we’re supposed to be today, but we need to make sure we keep progressing.”
Right now the Red is focused on its first games this weekend.
“We’re all just so excited and so amped about the games,” Reisert concluded. “When it comes to game time, we’ll be ready.”