September 12, 2003

On Top of His Game

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Spain is known for its rich history, beautiful beaches, and wealth of cultural experiences. But to senior Ian Pilarski, Spain means soccer. After witnessing firsthand the passion that the Spanish have for the game, Pilarski hopes to bring this passion to Cornell this season. With the men’s soccer team poised to make a run at the Ivy League title, he will be a pivotal part of the team’s success this season. Playing at the midfield, Pilarski is an all-around threat, who commands the respect of his teammates with his athleticism on the field.

But, as any good athlete will tell you, to be the best, you need to stay on top of your game year round. Pilarski knows this all too well.

He spent the summer with the Cape Cod Crusaders of the USL’s Premier Development League, the top amateur league in the country. Along with juniors Scott Palguta and Steve Reuter, Pilarski helped the Crusaders capture the PDL National Championship. He and Palguta were also members of the 2002 squad, which also captured the national title.

“Playing with some of the best players in the country definitely helped us prepare better,” remarked Pilarski. “It just makes you sharper, makes you think quicker on the field. [Living with Palguta and Reuter all summer,] we learned more about each other and how we play, so hopefully we’ll reflect that this season.”

Over the summer, the team compiled a 12-4-2 record, with Pilarski recording nine assists, fourth best in the league, along with two goals.

Breaking into the starting lineup his freshman season, Pilarski emerged as an offensive threat with two goals and two assists in 2000. The following season, he led the team in assists with seven, also adding a goal, while earning an All-Ivy Honorable Mention nod.

Despite the team’s disappointing run last year, Pilarski continued to shine. While the Red struggled to find the back of the net, Pilarski generated lots of scoring chances and was named to the All-Ivy second team.

“Everything that happened last year just seemed to prepare us even more for this year. Every loss — it’s almost like we want to get revenge on every team that beat us last year,” commented Pilarski.

A dedicated worker on and off the field, Pilarski was named one of the captains for this year’s squad.

“He’s a great leader for the team, really committed, really focused, and just really positive all the time about everything,” said sophomore Sean Shannon. “He’s a great guy to have as a leader because he’s always confident in himself and he leads by example.”

As a midfielder, Pilarski has been given free reign to create scoring opportunities in the offensive zone.

“Preferably, I like to receive the ball on the outside, and I like the upper left or right section of the field. It’s my kind of area where I can cut players in and cross balls in.”

Looking back at his career, Pilarski points to his goal against Harvard last season in the pouring rain as his favorite moment on the field. Off the field, he values the friendship and solidarity of the team.

“I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the past three years, and hope to make this senior year a memorable one and carry the team as far as possible,” said Pilarski.

As the season opens today against St. Bonaventure, Pilarski and the rest of the team are looking for a strong start to a successful year.

“This year, everyone gets along, there isn’t a certain clique, which is very important for team chemistry,” said Pilarski. “We’re a very tight and close-knit group, and the camaraderie is higher than ever.”

Archived article by Jonathan Auerbach