If looks could kill, senior tri-captain Ryan McClay would surely have murdered freshman Justin Redd during the press conference following Cornell’s 15-11 win over Syracuse.
“The last time that Syracuse came here, I didn’t know much about Cornell, that was before I was recruited,” Redd recalled. “I didn’t know how Cornell beat Syracuse, but now, just to beat this team…”
“Thanks a lot,” McClay retorted in front of a slew of chuckling local media.
As he did when a rookie in 2000, McClay was an integral factor in the Red’s upset over the Orange, as the longstickman kept the prolific opposing offense at bay for the entire game. His name only appears on the scoring sheet with a single assist, however make no mistake, McClay’s play was paramount in upsetting No. 1 Syracuse at Schoellkopf for the second straight time.
The first-team preseason All-American, who game and again erases the opponent he defends from the score sheet, rose to the challenge in yesterday’s game. Guarding against the Orange’s Josh Coffman, a senior attackman and first-team All-Amercian averaging 4.22 points per game, McClay hardly gave him a look within 20 yards of the crease.
“Going into the game, that was one of our keys to success — winning our individual matchups. That was important to us, and we knew that, and we focused on that, and it worked out for us,” said McClay about his gameplan.
And he certainly seemed to concentrate on just that. Coffman had one assist yesterday. In addition, he didn’t take as many shots as his usual points per game — a slump that wasn’t just due to the inclement weather.
“[McClay] covered probably, if not the, one of the best attackmen in Josh Coffman, who’s a wonderful player and a wonderful attackman,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said.
“Ryan just did a fantastic job. We left him on an island a little bit and really tried not to help as much as we could, because we knew if we had to help too much that Syracuse just had the capability to snap the ball through,” he said.
McClay also led Cornell in ground balls with nine, created tremendous turnovers when Syracuse was threatening, and was the catalyst for many of the transition goals, including Cornell’s 15th goal at 10:36 of the fourth quarter. McClay found freshman attacker Sean Greenhalgh at his usual position on the crease for the final score of the game. The assist was his third point of the season. He gave the speedy Orange a taste of its own medicine, sprinting from one end of the field to the other.
Perhaps most impressive is the praise he garnered from Orange coach John Desko.
“I thought he was terrific today,” Desko said of McClay. “Not only did he play a great defensive game, but in clearing situations, he was big. I made a comment to him at the end of the game. He’s still clearing the ball in the fourth quarter, at the end of the fourth quarter, and he’s not showing any signs of fatigue.
“Every time he clears it, he’s running about 80 yards. He’s picking the ball up, he did a great job in the defensive end of the field, coming up on the loose balls, and just running it out to the other end. We knew he liked to do that, we didn’t know he’d be so effective doing that today.”
Greenhalgh and senior goalie Justin Cynar (both of whom played exceptionally) may be singled out in the victory. Greenhalgh topped the score sheet with 6 goals and Cynar had 11 saves, including a few showstopping ones. However, McClay’s efforts were as significant throughout the game, even though they might be measured in someone else’s stats or lack thereof.
“Ryan McClay was every bit an All-American today,” Tambroni concluded.
Archived article by Amanda Angel