You win some, you lose some. Any athlete will tell you that he has experienced this at some point in his career.
The men’s soccer team learned this lesson over the weekend as it took to the road, playing against conference rival Dartmouth (8-5-3, 4-1-1 Ivy League). Cornell (8-2-5, 3-1-2) arrived in Hanover, N.H., on Saturday, well aware of the challenge that awaited. The competition was fairly well matched and, as sophomore striker Daniel Haber said last week, it would be a battle on the field.
Cornell and Dartmouth played strong on both sides of the ball during the first half. Both teams managed six shots apiece during the first 45 minutes of play; however, neither side was able to produce a point on the scoreboard out of their efforts, entering halftime tied, 0-0.
Arguably, the most important event of the first half occurred when Cornell junior net minder Rick Pflasterer went down with a leg injury during the first five minutes of play after colliding with a Dartmouth player. Stepping up in Pflasterer’s absence, freshman Zach Zagorski stood guard in front of the Red’s net. This marked the second career appearance for Zagorski, who played the last nine minutes in the sixth game of the season — a shutout against Binghamton on Sept. 21 at home.
“As a backup you have to be ready to go in at any time,” Zagorski said. “I felt very comfortable with the support of [the defense] behind me.”
Four minutes into the second half, the Green found an opening in Cornell’s defensive wall, as Kevin Dzierzawski scored an unassisted goal. Stunned by the change in momentum, the Red faced the pressure to equalize the score. Cornell played a tighter game, but was unable to break through Dartmouth’s defensive unit to create any scoring opportunities. The clock ticked on, and with six minutes left on the board, the Green scored what appeared to be the game winner. The ball bounced back and forth in the box between a pair of Dartmouth players before ultimately finding a place behind Zagorski in the net, increasing the lead over the Red, 2-0.
“The score wasn’t indicative of how the game really went,” said senior forward Chase Aaronson. “We pretty much went shot for shot until their first goal.”
As head coach Jaro Zawislan has said all season, it does not matter how many goals up or down the team may be, the only important thing is playing the game until the final whistle sounds.
The Red rushed to get in control of the ball again after the second kick-off. After some movement across the field, senior midfielder Jimmy Lannon had a throw in, which made contact with sophomore defender Patrick Slogic’s head for a goal.
“Late in the game, they got up, 2-0, and we were just pushing back and putting on a lot of pressure,” Slogic said. “We got a long throw, Jimmy threw it in and I went up for it to make a header and got it. We always play to the end, no matter what. We know there is always a chance to come back and with that goal we gained some momentum.”
This goal gave the Red some hope that the night was not yet over. Cornell has yet to be shut out all season, and the game against Dartmouth was not going to break that streak. Cornell is the only team in the country to have scored a goal in every game this year.
Though the game’s momentum began to shift back into Cornell’s hands, Dartmouth’s Lucky Mkosana, the Ivy League’s leading scorer, scored his 10th goal of the year on a breakaway. This ultimate shot finalized the game, 3-1.
Cornell now shares third place in the conference with Columbia, as Brown and Dartmouth share the top spot in the league which Cornell has held up until this point in the season. Next week’s match against Columbia will determine Cornell’s final standing in the conference. If Cornell wins it could potentially share its first league championship for the first time since 1995, provided that Brown and Dartmouth tie.
“There is still everything to play for,” Zawislan said. “We realize we could still finish first for the title, tied with two other teams, as long as we do our business given a favorable result from the other games. And over all it’s another ‘W’ in the win column in our overall record and in the Ivy league. “
“I think we’ll be ready for the Columbia game,” Zagorski added. “We all know we have a lot to play for. We have a lot of work ahead of us if we want to extend the season.”
The game against Columbia (8-7-1, 4-2-0), Senior Night, will also be the Red’s last game of the regular season. Columbia currently shares third place in the conference with the Red. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m. as the Cornell players will play under Berman’s lights for the last time this year.
“More than anything I expect to go out there and have a good time [against Columbia,]” Aaronson said. “Regardless of the outcome, this year has been more than anything I could have wished for — especially looking back on the last two years I’ve played. More than anything I look forward to the experience and being on the field with my close friends.”
Original Author: Lauren Ritter