Winning the Ivy League title was only the beginning.
“Winning an Ivy League championship was the first goal. It was a must have goal on the way to our second, more important goal, which is to perform in the post-season,” said senior goalkeeper and tri-captain Rick Pflasterer. “If we don’t perform in any single game, it could mean our last of this season and the last of my career.”
On Monday night, the No. 11 Red (15-1, 6-1 Ivy League) learned its post-season fate — a Thursday night contest against local rival Syracuse (12-6-0, 5-3-0 Big East) at home in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
“We’re all very, very psyched for this game. It’s a winable game if we play the way we always play and stay focused,” junior midfielder Stephen Reisert said. “We aren’t going about [preparing for the game in] any different way.”
Cornell looks to carry its growing momentum into the post-season, as the team surrendered only one loss, falling 2-0 to Brown on Oct. 20. After last weekend’s 1-0 decisive win over Columbia, Cornell secured the Ivy League Championship — the team’s number one goal since the preseason. With Pflasterer in net, the Red recorded seven shutouts with the ‘W’ — helping the senior break the single-season record for wins by a goalie (15) and place second in program history for career wins (28).
While Cornell’s overall season record has garnered national recognition, entering tonight’s game, the scoreboard will read 0-0 and each team will have to fight to earn a result.
“In a tournament like this, it doesn’t matter what you’ve done. You don’t get any points for a previous record,” said junior striker Daniel Haber. “It’s all about who comes out, executes their game plan better and gets the win.”
Despite the pressure which comes from competing in a national tournament, the team is staying focused on the game at hand.
Preparing for the game, the team quickly refocused after its Saturday win at Columbia.
“Everything went into overdrive with gathering information and scouting reports,” head coach Jaro Zawislan said. “We want to put ourselves in the best position to succeed on Thursday.”
The series between the local rivals is in Cornell’s favor, with the Red having a slight edge 39-22-7. Despite having a strong offensive line this year, according to Zawislan, his team is ready for the contest.
“Our players embrace the challenge.”