After losing three straight games to Albany, Princeton and Dartmouth, Cornell men’s soccer will look to end the season on a high note this weekend with its final match at Columbia. Although the Red have struggled of late, this season marks yet another year of improvement for a program which only two years ago finished the season with just one win.
The Red will return nearly every player on the roster next year and will look to improve on this year’s season which saw the team reach national recognition with a spot in the top 25.
In the meantime, however, Cornell is focusing on what they can take and improve upon — including from tough losses such as the overtime defeat to Albany.
“Results aside you want your guys to give everything they’ve got and I don’t think they did [against Albany],” said head coach John Smith. “Despite the fact that we didn’t bring the effort, we shouldn’t have lost. It was one of two games in a three game period where we missed a penalty, and that would have shaped the game. Sometimes it’s those key moments that either go your way or don’t. In that game they didn’t and we lost.”
Despite the Red’s recent struggles, Smith had nothing but praise for his young team. The young and inexperienced players that make up the roster have grown leaps and bound over the course of the season. Players like Emeka Eneli, Charles Touche, Harry Fuller and many others have solidified themselves as legitimate and consistent threats over the course of the season and will only improve through the offseason.
“The season has been a success. I look at it as an overall picture, and we have had a phenomenally successful season regardless of anything,” Smith said. “Two years ago, this program was an embarrassment. The culture was ridiculously bad, and it was a team that after our first training session had four or five soccer balls. If you look at all the changes that have been made, it’s incredible.”
Smith also commended Columbia in advance of this weekend’s meeting describing their team and style of play as incredibly technical, impressive and hard-working. He also commented on the difference in the surface they will be playing on this weekend: turf.
“Whenever we’re playing on turf I make a point of telling our guys that they have to have poker faces,” Smith said. “They can’t show their cards and let people know that they’re upset that the ball doesn’t bounce normally or the ball is out of bounds a lot. There’s so many moments when you play on turf that you could let yourself get frustrated, but we have to have those poker faces and not show anyone our cards.”
The Red will kick off at Columbia this Saturday at 1 p.m.