Photo by Patrick Shanahan. Courtesy of www.cornellbigred.com
By Celeste Cirillo-Penn
The Cornell Men’s Soccer team (15-1, 6-1 in the Ivy League) finished an impressive regular season on Saturday with a 1-0 victory over Columbia. With that victory the Cornell squad claimed the Ivy League title for the first time as sole victors since 1977 and the first time in general since 1995 (the 1995 squad was co-champions).
“I am proud of the guys that they could deliver a championship for the people at Cornell and in Ithaca,” head coach, Jaro Zawislan said. “For the program to reach that level of success it has to be a team effort, and the players credit goes to them first of all, but it has been a total team effort of the athletic department and the university. We greatly appreciated the fan support, and…we want to thank everybody.”
However, although the men achieved one of their major goals by winning the Ivy League, their season is not over. The victor of the Ivy League receives an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament. On Monday at 5:30 pm, the squad gathered, along with fans, to await the official announcement of their bid during the NCAA Selection Show. During the show’s broadcast, it was also revealed that they would play Syracuse.
“We knew we had a bid, so the suspense was around who we would play,” senior goalkeeper, Rick Pflasterer said of the selection show. “It will be a classic derby match, and we’re very proud and excited to be competing in the national tournament.”
The squad predicts that the matchup will be a battle, as the teams have had a history of close games.
“We played them my freshman year and lost in a tight battle,” senior midfielder, Nico Nissl said. “My sophomore year we tied them 1-1 … They’re a young team this year, but they’ve always been very strong and athletic. It will be a great game for sure.”
With the high stakes of a single elimination tournament, the team has immediately shifted its focus away from the Ivy League Championship and towards preparing for the upcoming game.
“The tournament is must win, so the focus is there more than ever from our guys,” senior forward, Tyler Regan said. “We know they are a great team but we need to focus on ourselves and our style of play first and foremost.”
The men will take on Syracuse at home on Thursday November 15 at 7 pm.