In Cornell’s final game of the season, the Big Red took on Columbia University in an effort to win the Ivy League Title and an at-large position in the NCAA tournament. After finishing 4-8-5 last year, Cornell had an impressive turn around this season, as they went into last week’s game 8-2-5. Going into the game, the team knew that a win would put them in a tie for the Ivy League Title, a fact that set the tone for the entire game.
However, things did not start well for Cornell. In the 17th minute of the game, Columbia’s David Najem chipped the ball over the head of Cornell goalie, Zach Zagorski, who was standing in for an injured Rick Pflasterer. The goal put Columbia up 1-0.
In the closing minutes of the first half, Cornell evened the score with a goal from Daniel Haber. After a long pass down field from Defender Patrick Slogic, Tyler Regan sprinted down the right sideline, beat a defender, and crossed to Haber for the assist. The Big Red went into the second half tied with Columbia, and they would exit the final minutes of regulation time the same way.
The teams headed into the first over time ready to score, Cornell eager to edge out the Lions for the title. However, after two overtimes, the game ended in a tie and landed in fourth overall in the Ivy League.
“Coming into this season we felt like last year we left a lot on the table, and the group we had going forward was so committed, that we felt like we had this in us, we had to go out and prove it” said Haber. Cornell fought until the very last minute, until the final whistle blew when almost everyone on the field fell to the ground showing both the physical and emotional anguish the game caused.
“Obviously it’s a pretty emotional night.” Said Lannon, a senior midfielder and captain on the team. “This season, we’ve kind of been fighting back from what we used to be. As tough a result as it was to take, we fought the entire time. And that’s kind of what this team has been all about for the last three years. I couldn’t be more proud of this group,” he continued, “even during the thought time of the game, we got down one nothing, and it took all we got to fight back and get a goal.”
After finishing 1-14 his freshman year, Lannon credited the dedication of the team and coaches for the turn around. “It’s really tough because we put in the hours, we put in all the work that I don’t think a lot of other teams did. And that’s kind of why we really believed we were doing something right. They couldn’t work nearly as hard as us without getting the results and I think this year proved it,” said Lannon, “It’s so tough because we all put our hearts and souls into this whole thing.”
After the game, coach Jaro Zawislan talked about the development of the team over the season. “The foundation with 8 wins 2 losses 6 ties, of course we would like to win more games, of course we would like to win the title tonight for this program, for the fans, for the community here, and just came short, but I am so proud of the players, they left everything on the field,” said Zawislan, who has now been with the program for three years. Along with the efforts of the team, Zawislan was able to push the team into the top 25 in the NCAA rankings this season.
Despite the disappointing finale to the season, after a discouraging 2010 season, the team was still proud of their accomplishments this season. “The whole attitude of the program is completely different now. We are much more positive we really believe that going forward we will be competing every year for the Ivy League Championship and for a spot in the [NCAA] tournament” Haber said.
“The foundation with 8 wins 2 losses 6 ties, of course we would like to win more games, of course we would like to win the title tonight for this program, for the fans, for the community here, and just came short, but I am so proud of the players, they left everything on the field.” Added Zawislan. “Sky is the limit! And we always try for perfection so this process will never end and just looking at the progress that this group of players made from the preseason, form the first game, and getting better almost every half of the game, almost every 45 minutes we’ve been getting better, and better and better.”
In addition to a season the clearly displayed great potential for future seasons, defender Patrick Slogic and junior goalkeeper Rick Pflasterer made first team All-Ivy. Slogic played every minute of every game (except one which he didn’t play in at all), and Pflasterer started 15 or 16 games and allowed only nine goals in 15 games, allowed an average of 0.78 goals against (third all time for Cornell). Pflasterer also had six shutouts, and 81 minutes of a seventh. The last Cornell player to make first team All-Ivy was Matt Bouaree in 2009, and this pair is the first duo since 1996 to make first team All-Ivy, when three Cornell players made the team. Senior midfielder Jimmy Lannon and sophomore forward Daniel Haber make second team All-Ivy, and sophomore midfielder Benjamin Williams was named to the Honorable Mention All-Ivy team. Freshman forward Conor Goepel walked away from the season with two freshman of the week awards, and Goalkeeper Zack Zagorski with one.