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Revamped Culture, Strong Freshmen Paying Dividends for Men’s Soccer in 2017

Supported by a more mature culture and new group of gritty freshman, the Cornell men’s soccer team has much to smile about more than halfway through the 2017 season.

With close wins over strong teams in Syracuse and Harvard, as well as hard-fought wins against Colgate and Binghamton, Cornell (6-4-2, 1-1-1 Ivy) is in position to further obliterate its win percentage from last year.

Head coach John Smith believes that determining how his team has developed over the last 12 months goes far beyond the team’s record of wins and losses.

“Outsiders will always judge us by what the win-loss column says,” he said. “I had my best coaching season of my entire career last year, and I only won one game.”

Much of Smith’s work has included instilling a sense of accountability in his players, shifting that burden away in an attempt to make his players “culture warriors.”

Smith has worked tirelessly to ensure his players embody certain qualities and focus on “attitude, mentality, drive and desire … the things that don’t require any talent, but are pivotal in competitive sporting environments.”

Clearly, much had to be done in order to develop many of the returning players into these “culture warriors.”

Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

The men have blown its 2016 win total out of the water.

“We haven’t taken a different approach this year from last.” Smith said. “The only difference is time — a number of these guys have been around us long enough to realize how much of an emphasis we put on setting the right culture.”

This culture has been instilled in all returning members who had to go through the “ugly” parts of the rebuilding processes. “I feel for last year’s group because they just didn’t have enough time to go through the necessary changes,” Smith said.

This year, the players’ ability to buy into what Smith has been developing over the past 365 days has begun to shine. Junior Ryan Hill’s game winning goal against…

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