October 31, 2011

M. SOCCER | Haber Vaults Red Atop Ivies in Tie

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Athletes always seem to have a love-hate relationship when it comes to the weather. The men’s soccer team was greeted by rain, sleet and snow when it arrived in Princeton, N.J., Saturday morning. The squad was slated to take on the Tigers at 4 p.m., but  the officials and the Princeton athletics department decided to postpone the game until Sunday afternoon at 1 p.m. This extra day allowed the players to relax and get in some additional stretching time after the long bus ride.

“It gave us the full night to relax and unwind,” said senior forward Will Ogden. “Then by the time that Sunday came around we were fully prepared to play.”

“I think we were all relieved a little bit,” added sophomore striker Daniel Haber, echoing his appreciation for the extra rest time.

Going into the game against the defending conference champions, the Red (8-1-5, 3-0-2 Ivy League) was well aware that it would have its work cut out for itself. The Tigers (4-8-2, 1-3-1) have endured one of the most difficult out-of-conference schedules, and entered Sunday’s game playing the best they have all season, according to head coach Jaro Zawislan.

Despite the Tigers’ underwhelming season record, defeating Princeton would be a tough task for the Red.

“It was a battle,” Haber explained. “[The game] didn’t have too many chances. We were even in possession, but maybe we were a little bit further ahead.”

The teams appeared fairly well-matched at the beginning of the game; however, things looked bleak for the Red when freshman defender Peter Chodas accidentally scored on his own goal in the first half . Chodas unintentionally tipped the ball in as it came across the box from a Princeton player.

“We had an own goal, which was unfortunate, but I don’t blame my defender at all,” Haber said. “He did his best to keep it out and if he hadn’t touched it their guy was right there to tap it in. I was happy how he responded. We came close to scoring at the end. We really felt we should have come out of there with a win, especially with the confidence we were playing with.”

This goal marked the first time since the Oct. 8 game against Harvard that an opponent was able to score first against the Red.

“An own goal is unfortunate, but as long as the player is trying to make a play on the sequence leading to the goal, that is all you can ask players to do,” Zawislan said. “It is one of the unfortunate bounces that end up in your own goal, but the character of the team came through again.”

Working hard to come back from trailing down by one, the Red was able to even the score with a goal by Haber right before the end of the first half in the 40th minute. Haber placed the shot right behind Princeton’s keeper and successfully kept the Red in the running for the top place in the conference. This score puts Haber at 20 points for the season (eight goals, four assists), which leads the Ivy League and represents the most points a Cornell player has scored since Matt Bouraee ’09 notched 22 in 2007.

“They worked hard to regain the momentum and score the equalizing goal before the half time which was very important,” Zawislan said. “Even at the half and as the game progressed, we felt we were taking over and gaining more momentum as the box score shows that we out-shot the Princeton team and created more chances.”

Cornell out-shot Princeton 15-5 and earned the advantage in shots on goal, 5-2. The Red’s back line presented a solid front, locking out the Tigers every time they made a break for the box. Cornell took three more shots in overtime; however, none of them found the net before the final whistle blew, resulting in a tie.

“Overall I was happy with the performance of the team, though we are never fully satisfied with a tie,” Zawislan said. “We are not complacent with a tie, but it was a very important point this weekend that keeps us in the first place in the Ivy League and keeps up the unbeaten record.”

“It was a pretty tough game over all as we expected with Princeton, they were very good going forward and it was just a battle all over the place,” Ogden added. “It was a pretty even game — 1-1 was a pretty fair result. We definitely had a few chances towards the end of the game, especially in the second half. So it’s hard not getting the result, but we’ll take the tie that keeps us in first place.”

Cornell extended its unbeaten streak to a program record 13 games with the tie against Princeton, and ensured that the Red would retain its position atop the conference ranks.

The Red now has 11 points in the conference, separating itself from second-place Brown and Dartmouth by one point. Columbia defeated Yale on Sunday, which created a two-way tie between the two teams for fourth place in the Ivies. The conference’s Top-5 teams are separated by only two points with two games left in the regular season.

Original Author: Lauren Ritter