August 29, 2013

M. SOCCER | Cornell Hopes to Defend Its Ivy League Title in Upcoming Season

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The Cornell men’s soccer team has much to look forward to this season, which will begin Sept. 6  at Hartwick University. The Red will play its first series of games, The Mayor’s Cup, against The University of Detroit Mercy on Sept. 6 followed by a game against host Hartwick on Sept. 8.

Head Coach Jaro Zawislan will start his fifth season as a coach for Cornell after a successful 2012-13 season. After taking home the Ivy League title, the Red fell early to Syracuse in the NCAA tournament. The Orange was able to beat Cornell in the first round, ending the tournament early for the team. However, the men have been working on individual player’s physical abilities, as well as the team’s possession of the ball and tactical discipline.

“We’re just looking forward to the next game. We were focused only on that first game,” Zawislan said. “We had a short preseason, and we need to hit the ground running.”

In terms of overall goals for the season, senior tri-captain Patrick Slogic and Zawislan hope to take the title of Ivy League champions again, as well as advance even further in the tournament than last year.

“The team is a work in progress. We just want to see steady improvement,” Zawislan said. “It is important to focus on training session to training session rather than jump too far ahead. Staying ahead of the other teams is what is most important.”

With one senior, Daniel Haber, already signed and playing for Apollon Limassol — a professional team based out of Cyprus — the seniors who did return this year will have to work harder than ever to defend their title of Ivy League champions. Slogic was recently chosen to the Men’s National Top 100, but he is still prepared for what lies ahead.

“[This honor] won’t affect how I feel about the upcoming season,” Slogic said. “I still have to perform this season regardless of my [past] success.”

With the addition of fifteen new freshmen, this year will not only be about trying to win back to back titles, but will also focus on training these new players in order to put together a stronger team for the years to come.

“The freshman are looking promising,” Slogic said. “They all show potential to make an impact right away. I am very happy with what the new players could add to our returning team.”

These freshmen come from places as close as New York City and New Jersey and as far as Cambridge, England. Many have held championship titles themselves, playing on national club teams and holding spots in the U.S. Development Academy — a program that connects youth players in top clubs around the country to United States soccer teams later on. However, Zawislan has made it clear to the team that there is no such thing as a guaranteed spot on the team — the players have to earn their time on the field in each practice and games.

“We’re going to put the best players on the field in playing time positions and we’re going to make sure we have a group of players who give us the best chance to succeed,” Zawislan said.

Senior tri-captains Jake Rinow, Ben Williams and Slogic were all starters and integral members of the team last year. Rinow, one of the starting defenders, and Williams, a starting midfielder, played for the majority of each game, both averaging around 88 minutes of playing time. Slogic, after being nominated for many awards last season and making the National Top 100, hopes to ultimately sign a contract, at the end of his senior year to play professionally.

The first game of Ivy League play is scheduled for Oct. 5 against The University of Pennsylvania on the Quakers’ home turf. The following week, the Red will be back at home for its second league game against Harvard.

“I’m looking forward to all the Ivy League games this year, especially against Brown,” Slogic said. “We have a huge home game against them this year, and they are usually one of the biggest hurdles to overcome in order to win the Ivy title.”

Despite the loss of one key player, the Red is hoping for another successful season. With so much new talent joining the team this year, a strong group of returning players, and intense training to start off the season, Cornell will likely find itself playing with the same tenacity and heart that earned the Red the championship title last season.

Original Author: Anna Fasman