September 24, 2012

M. SOCCER | Cornell Defeats Hawks in Hard Fought Battle

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A light rain was not enough to hold back the Red, as it squeaked past the St. Joseph’s Hawks and clinched a 3-2 victory on Saturday afternoon at Berman Field. Junior striker Daniel Haber proved to be a dangerous threat on the field, putting the Red on the board with two goals; however, it was sophomore midfielder Conor Goepel who notched the game-winner and secured the victory with just over 15 minutes left in play.

For the second time this season, the No. 24  Red tried to reclaim control of the game after finding itself in a 1-0 deficit. The Hawks (2-5) exploded on the field as soon as the first whistle blew, with junior midfielder Pat McGlynn netting the first goal of the game at 6:38. The Red (7-0) struggled to put pressure on St. Joseph’s defense for the rest of the half, leaving the score 1-0 in favor of the Hawks at the end of 45 minutes.

“We knew [the Hawks] were going to be a scrappy team and they fought hard,” Haber said. “I think we had a couple of unlucky bounces off of their goals … We were just upset with ourselves for giving them those opportunities. We really felt like we didn’t play as well as we could have or should have.”

According to head coach Jaro Zawislan, allowing the St. Joseph’s players too much space and too much time on the ball contributed to the Red’s rocky first-half performance. However, at the beginning of the second half, the Red looked like it had reignited the fire in its eyes as Cornell players took to the field.

“In the second time, we did much better from the beginning with regard to closing down the space and minimizing the amount of time the St. Joseph’s players had on the ball,” Zawislan said.

The Red outshot the Hawks, 30-11; however St. Joseph’s back line and goalie managed to keep Cornell at bay for most of the contest.

“I think our whole team as a group, we came out a little lackadaisical [in the first half,]” said sophomore right midfielder Peter Chodas. “But, we picked it up and pulled out a  win, so we are all happy.”

Despite a rather rough first half, Haber found himself at the center of attention by the beginning of the second. At the start of the second half, the Toronto-native scored his 10th and 11th goals of the season. In the 47th minute, junior midfielder Ben Williams sent Haber a solid feed. Haber sprinted up to the Hawks’ defensive line in front of all of St. Joseph’s defenders, before beating the netminder for a goal that he shot off low and to the left.

“We weren’t quite as sharp as we usually are [in the first], but once the second half came around and we felt a sense of urgency, we all came out flying and put the pieces together,” Haber said.

Haber set another piece in place under two minutes later, when he scored on a penalty kick at 48:30. In scoring his 11th goal of the season, the junior striker earned his 50th career point with the Red. As of Sept. 16, Haber led the national Division I charts in goals per game (1.4) and points per game (3.2).

In the 72nd minute, the Hawks outplayed senior goalie Rick Pflasterer once more, equalizing the game, 2-2. However, despite a quick set-back, the Red was back on top less than three minutes later when Goepel headed the ball into the net.

“Fighting back and dealing with adversity in the first half and coming back and coming out with the win was really huge for us,” said junior midfielder Stephen Reisert.

With another notch in the wins column, the Red is looking forward to the future, as it will host the Hartwick Hawks (2-2-2) on Tuesday night at 7 p.m. Cornell is focusing on pressuring the ball and working hard to get back to the basics, which Chodas says is important for improving.

“We need to come out strong and really focused and on top of our game,” Reisert echoed. “Like [Zawislan] always says, we need to keep on building on and improving each game. We need to come out with intensity and come out sharp and just come out a little bit more focused than we did [against St. Joseph’s] and we’ll be great. I think we have a lot of potential this season, but it really comes down to execution and focusing on each game.”

According to Zawislan, his players have continued to grow and mature through each game, which is evident in the individuals’ efforts on the field. Gaining the most recognition for his contributions this season has been Haber, who was named Ivy League Player of the Week this week — marking the third time he has received the honor in the past four weeks. However, despite the media attention,  Haber does not focus on records, but rather on improving for the next opponent.

“His full focus in on the next game and doing the best he can to help the team to get a ‘W’ in the next game,” Zawislan said. “That’s what every player’s attitude is in the locker room is … We will continue to stay focused.”

This extreme focus and determination to achieve a positive result has brought the Red to where it currently stands in the season. Cornell is the only undefeated and untied team in the Ivy League — boasting a 7-0 record, which the program has not been seen since 1974. The Red has also scored at least one goal in 23 consecutive games — extending its own team record by one. Records such as these are meant to be broken, Zawislan says; however, championships and trips to the national tournament are permanent parts of programs — ones that Cornell is continually working to achieve.

Yet, despite the accolades that the team and individual players have received throughout the season, one thing will always be certain.

“We have to start from a 0-0 game and be mentally ready, as we’ve always been this season, to step on the field and earn the result, earn the first goal of the game and earn the positive result of the game,” Zawislan said. “We cannot get into any area of complacency or feeling too comfortable.”

Original Author: Lauren Ritter