With its first game of the year taking place in just eight days, the men’s soccer team has been training in preparation for its 2010 season. This year, the roster features 14 new players –– three transfer students and 11 freshmen.
“The nice thing is we have a nice balance and blend of returning players and the newcomers, including the freshmen and the transfers. It’s great because we have a competitive environment created by not only the quantity but also quality of the players at pretty much every position and every line of the formation,” said head coach Jaro Zawislan.
The three transfers will each play the position of forward and bring more experienced play to the team. Juniors Will Ogden and Franck Onambele and sophomore Tyler Regan come from different locations and levels of play.
Ogden, a native of Armonk, N.Y., comes to Cornell after two seasons at Villanova. During his last season, Ogden was named Big East Offensive Player of the Week after he scored two goals against DePaul.
Meanwhile, Onambele arrives in Ithaca following two years in Ontario, where the 6-1 competitor was part of the team at York University that took the Canadian University championship in 2008.
Finally, Philadelphia native Regan joins the Red after finishing as one of the second leading scorers on the team at Appalachian State.
The 11 freshmen also bring talent to the team, even without experience stemming past high school.
“I am happy with how they are adjusting to the college game,” Zawislan said.
However, like for anyone put into a new setting, there is still some work to be done by the players.
“The adjustment that the newcomers have to make is there to be made, and they are making that adjustment. It is a new training environment, new people that are surrounding them,” Zawislan said, though noting that each day features a further progression as the new group becomes more familiar with the other members of the Red.
The 11 freshmen include players from eight states and another player from Ontario, Daniel Haber. The 5-10 forward participated in Israel’s Maccabiah Games in 2009 on behalf of Canada and also won three consecutive Ontario championships with club soccer team Spartacus from 2008-10.
As it is, the blend of all the new players has made for a good atmosphere at practices.
“Practices have been very competitive –– high paced with high tempo –– and I’m really happy with the progress that both returning and newcoming players are making. The first step was to get to know each other –– not only off the field but especially on the field. … We’re talking here about getting to know each others’ strengths and weaknesses and learning how we can play together as a team up to our strengths,” Zawislan said.
Team chemistry, he mentioned, is something that the Cornell soccer team has had good experience with building.
“One thing we’re pretty proud of as a program that already happened last year was returning players being very inclusive and accommodating with the newcomers. And that made that adjustment period for the newcomers much easier … and that’s what I expected out of this group again this year … no cliques,” Zawislan said.
Zawislan also described how the starter roles are mostly up for grabs by anyone and have yet to be determined.
“There is definitely a very good chance that we will some new faces in the starting lineup or in the rotation from the bench but that hasn’t been decided so the jury’s still out and the competition’s out there pretty much for every spot on the field,” he said.
So even while some players may have showed greater progress on the training field than others to date, the reality is that every player has a chance to have playing time if he is able to prove himself during practice.
This emphasis on not yet deciding lineups comes in stride with the team-focused ideals the coach maintains.
“There is no star on this team,” Zawislan said. “The star of this team is the team.”
The new players will be seen donning red and white on Charles F. Berman Field in the home opener against Hartwick College on the evening of Sept. 6.
Original Author: Reena Gilani