Freshman Feature: Emeka Eneli
Imagine you are about to play your first collegiate soccer game at a Division I university. You’re likely not to play much, let alone take a shot on goal. Well, for Emeka Eneli, Cornell’s star freshman from Dublin, Ohio, the archetypal role of rookie proved inadequate. Eneli, an outside midfielder, doled out a last second goal as time expired in the first half at Binghamton University, followed by a left-footed bullet into the bottom of the net against St. Francis College Brooklyn. It should come as no surprise then, that Eleni was later named Ivy League Rookie of the Week, which the conference office announced this past Monday.
Standing at a modest 5’9’’ with broad shoulders and a strong frame, Eneli is now one year removed from a noteworthy career at Dublin Coffman High School in central Ohio. Sitting in the lounge on the first floor of Mann Library, Eneli reminisces about his high school achievements: “One of my greatest experiences from high school soccer was probably winning regionals against our rival school,” 5-0 he quickly added.
When prodding Eneli about the prospect of continuing to play soccer after Cornell, my question was met with a resounding nod of affirmation. “It would be great to play overseas, but we’ll see whatever opportunity arises.” Fortunately for the Ohio native, pro soccer is a ways away. In the meantime, he will focus on working hard and helping his team win in whatever capacity needed. “I want to contribute as much as possible, from bringing equipment and water to adding assists and points for the team.”
The Big Red now stand at 3-0 in non-conference play, capping off their win streak with a late-night victory over Lafayette College in Easton, PA. Back on campus, the team is preparing for tonight’s home-opener against upstate New York foe, Syracuse University. In last year’s matchup with the Syracuse Orange, Cornell defeated the 11th ranked team in the country in a 1-0 contest for the first time since 2001. With a young team and a strong start to the year, the men in red look to once again defeat the Orange under an ESPN televised audience.
With five more games until Ivy League play officially begins, head coach John Smith’s players must unite around him, and, as Eneli put it, work toward a singular goal: “we want to win the Ivy League.”