September 8, 2011

M. SOCCER | Haber Nabs First Goal of Season

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The men’s soccer team returned to the pitch Tuesday night, for an exciting contest against Lafayette, which ultimately ended in a draw, 1-1. The Red will continue its busy schedule by heading to Oneonta, N.Y. Friday night for a 7:30 p.m. showdown with Robert Morris. However, the Red’s weekend will not end until a match versus Hartwick on Sunday at 3 p.m. — also in Oneonta. Both games are part of the Mayor’s Cup, hosted by Hartwick on Elmore Field.

In its second home game, the Red (0-1-1) defended Berman Field against the Leopards (1-1-1). The match started off fairly slow; however, the Red soon started to create scoring chances. About 14 minutes into the match, sophomore forward Daniel Haber slipped behind the Lafayette defense and delivered a cross-goal shot that went past Leopards’ goalkeeper Graham Heydt, but ended up just wide of the net. The Red had numerous other chances in the first half, but was unable to capitalize, as the period ended with the score knotted, 0-0.

“We had quite a few good chances; [we out-shot] Lafayette, 24-7,” said head coach Jaro Zawislan. “The chances that we created were very good ones.”

The Red came out to play in the second half and put on a more impressive show than it did in the first, ultimately out-shooting the Leopards in the half, 14-3. Things started off quickly. One minute into the half senior midfielder Jimmy Lannon sent a soaring shot just above the left corner of the Lafayette net. Three minutes later, junior midfielder and forward Nico Nissl located the ball inside of the Lafayette box and ripped a shot that was quickly snatched up by Heydt. Despite creating many great scoring chances, the Red was unable to get on the board first and Lafayette drew first blood. Twenty-three minutes into the second half Wayne Maminski passed the ball across the Cornell box, where he found a waiting Blake Fink, who hammered it in the back of the net past junior goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer.

The Red did not let the visitor’s score affect its play, however. Three minutes after Fink put the Leopards up one goal on Cornell, Haber got the ball on the left side of the Lafayette box and fought past the defenders, ultimately launching a strike that flew over Heydt and found the back of the net. Haber immediately ran towards the home crowd, jumped in the air and offered a powerful fist pump to the fans who stuck it out through a chilly and wet Ithaca night to cheer on the Red.

“I was very proud of our team in how well they responded to being down one goal late in the game,” Zawislan said. “We thought [the Lafayette] goal was going to change the momentum of the game … we responded very well … which shows the strong character of the team.”

Despite the boost given to the team by Haber’s goal, the Red was unable to turn any of its remaining chances into points and the game went to overtime. When the first overtime period ended scoreless, the game moved into double overtime. Again the Red had plenty of opportunities, but could not capitalize and the contest ultimately finished in a tie, 1-1.

“We definitely feel like we deserved more from this game,” Pflasterer said. “We’ve got to keep our heads high and … move towards the weekend.”

The Red faces a tough schedule this weekend against Robert Morris (1-1-1) and Hartwick (1-1-1). RMU has already faced tough challenges this year. In their first game the Colonials earned a win over Pittsburgh, followed by a tie against Buffalo. Last weekend, RMU held then-No. 9 South Florida scoreless in the first half, before breaking down and conceding three quick goals in a loss, 3-1. Against strong offense from Colonial forwards like Prince Samuels, who has already tallied three goals on the season, the Red will need to keep developing its game in order to win its first game of the season.

“We will do everything we can to recover — in the short amount of time we have — for this weekend,” Zawislan said. “I would worry more if we weren’t creating the chances. We are creating the chances … we have to be a little bit sharper around the goal.”

The Red will have to recover quickly once again in order to meet Hartwick on Sunday. The Hawks, like Robert Morris, have played well so far this season, beating Albany in their first outing before dropping a match to Colgate in overtime and then earning a tie with Niagara — the team that gave the Red its first loss of the season. Hartwick is a team that tends to jump out early, scoring all its goals this season before the midway point of the first half. The Red must continue to create chances, force the ball to the back of the net and hope the Hawks’ early magic wears off again, according to Pflasterer.

“Everyone definitely needs to contribute,” he said. “We have the talent and we have the tenacious play. If one person is lacking, the whole team is lacking, so it’s going to have to be a team effort to get that win.”

Fortunately the team has been improving, as each successive quarter of play has been more intense and impressive. While particular players have stood out this year, the team as a whole has played quite well, and it will require the team as a whole to bring back a pair of wins to East Hill.

“The star of this team is the team itself,” Zawislan said. “There are no stars on this team.”

Original Author: Zach Waller