Despite sub-freezing temperatures in Ithaca, the time has come to clear the snow off Schoellkopf Field as the No. 9 Cornell lacrosse team faces No. 10 Notre Dame (1-0) tomorrow at 1 p.m. After three exhibitions, including a contest with perennial powerhouse Johns Hopkins, the Red is itching to finally play for keeps.
“The first game is always exciting, but to have the season opener also be the home opener against a ranked opponent makes it even more exciting,” said senior co-captain Kyle Georgalas. “Everyone is getting very excited to get out there.”
Waiting for the Red at Schoellkopf will be the Fighting Irish, a team led by a defensive unit that held No. 21 Penn State scoreless in the last 25:17 of a 14-6 victory last Sunday. The defensive effort was anchored by goaltender Stewart Crosland, who stopped 17 shots, and preseason third-team All-America selection D.J. Driscoll, who led the team with six ground balls.
On the offensive end, three Notre Dame attackers recorded hat tricks — Matt Karweck, who also recorded an assist, Jim Morrison, and Pat Walsh, who leads the team with six points. With his first point — an assist to Karweck with just 17 seconds remaining in the first half — Walsh became the second fastest player in Irish history to reach 100 career points. But, despite a solid all-around performance by Notre Dame, the Red remains focused on what it needs to do to earn a win.
“All we worry about is what we control,” Georgalas said.
One thing the Red could not control is the graduation of last year’s leading scorer, Andrew Collins ’04. Looking to take his place will be four players that all scored at least 29 points a season ago — junior Joe Boulukos, and seniors Kevin Nee, Justin Redd, and co-captain Sean Greenhalgh.
Despite not starting a single game last season, Boulukos and Redd made their presences felt, finishing third on the team in goals scored and second in assists, respectively. Both Nee and Greenhalgh started all 14 games the Red played last season, leading the team to a 9-5 record, incuding six wins in eight games at Schoellkopf. Nee was second on the team in goals (26) and second in shooting percentage (.426), while Greenhalgh led the Red in goals scored from his attacker position, with 28.
Defensively, the Red is backstopped by its two returning senior starters — Georgalas and Casey Stevenson. Georgalas, an honorable mention All-Ivy selection last season, notched 27 ground balls during the 2004 campaign while Stevenson tallied 18.
In goal, the Red will depend on sophomore Matt McMonagle to record key saves throughout the season. Last season, the netminder made nine starts and had 11 appearances, recording an 8-3 record and posting a .580 save percentage.
The Red has all the components in place, but according to Georgalas, the team will have to gel on the field to be successful.
“The key for us — which will be consistent over the course of the year — will just be to play together,” he said.
Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Assistant Sports Editor