October 27, 2011

M. SOCCER | Red Leads Conference Entering Weekend Game Against Tigers

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With three games remaining on its schedule, the men’s soccer team enters the weekend’s Ivy League action narrowly holding a lead atop the conference. The Red (8-1-4, 3-0-1 Ivy League) travels to Princeton (4-8-1, 1-3-0) Saturday in its third of five consecutive games against Ancient Eight opponents to finish off the season. Yale and Dartmouth trail Cornell by one in the loss column, with Brown (2-1-1) a close third. On Oct.15 the Red beat Yale, 2-0.  Cornell tied Brown, 1-1, last Saturday, and will play Dartmouth on the road Nov. 5. Cornell is on one of the most impressive streaks in the nation entering play unbeaten in its last 12 matches, second only to New Mexico’s 15. The Red has not lost since Sept. 2 to Niagara, 3-1. The squad had won four games in a row prior to last Saturday’s tie against Brown, 1-1, which also dropped Cornell below the NCSAA’s Top-25 rankings. The Tigers posses a roster of experienced players from last year’s Ivy League championship team and have played in many close overtime games throughout the season. “We definitely are not underestimating Princeton,” said head coach Jaro Zawislan. “They went through the Ivy League with a perfect record [last year], so they know how to win those games. They are a very dangerous team and they seem to be peaking right now.” Zawislan continued on to mention how the Tigers have been playing one of the toughest schedules in the nation this season. The team has gone through some early season injuries, which could possibly explain its early season struggles. The head coach went on to explain how tough it is to earn any points from Princeton on the road; however, he noted that no change would be made to his team’s philosophy for Saturday.“Our philosophy is to go out there and earn the result,” Zawislan said. “While other teams may come out playing aggressive when they are on the road, our tactic and strategy will be the same. We will play our high pace, high tempo game and expect a good result.” Senior midfielder Jimmy Lannon and junior goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer echoed their coach’s sentiments about being confident going into this weekend’s matchup, while not taking anything for granted. “Nothing is going to be handed to us,” Lannon said. “The respect for our team is not there yet.  We do have a certain confidence that we have not had in other years, but we are also cautious at respecting everyone and what they can do. Princeton is going to be a good team, but if we go out and execute our game plan, we will expect to do well.”   “We have a little bit of swagger, as one alumni put it, coming on to the field because we are confident we have what it takes,” Pflasterer said. “But, ultimately it is what you do and what you get out of the games that really matters.”In regards to any improvements from the Brown game that need to be made, Lannon and Pflasterer agreed that the two most important areas were staying sharp and playing a complete game.“We want to jump on teams from the start,” Lannon said. “We are ready to show a little bit of a change.”“Defensively, we want to stay sharp,” Pflasterer added. “We need to keep up the pressure, keep the intensity and finish strong.”In addition to Lannon and Pflasterer, sophomore defender Patrick Slogic and freshman defender Peter Chodas are crucial to the success the back line and keeping the ball out of the net. Slogic and Chodas have started all 13 games this season and are among the leaders in minutes played for the team. Playing both sides of the ball, Slogic has also contributed to the season’’s overall statistics with six points, which ties him for fourth on the team. The Red is 3-0-2 on the road this season; however, the team has historically struggled against Princeton with a 37-48-11 record. Cornell lost last year’s contest in an upsetting shutout, 1-0.As the season winds down, the NCAA tournament enters into the view for many teams. Last year, Princeton earned the automatic bid by winning the conference title and Dartmouth, Brown and Penn earned at-large bids due to their success in the season overall. Given the prosperity that the team has experienced in the past few weeks, the Red is not willing to settle on earning an at-large bid to the tournament. “In our minds the only way to get into the tournament is to win the Ivy League, “Lannon said. “We need to remember we are trying to accomplish something here, and we have not accomplished yet.”

Original Author: Scott Eckl