The last time the Cornell men’s lacrosse team played Albany, the Greyhounds’ goalie scored. It was just that kind of day for the Red.
Last year, Albany blasted Cornell, embarrassing the Red at home. With hopes that that defeat is far in that past, Cornell will travel to Albany this weekend to take on the Greyhounds’ high-octane offense.
“We’ve been really focusing on our defense and just controlling the pace of the play,” said freshman midfielder Clarke Petterson, the reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Week. “We just want to limit their opportunities and try to make the most of ours.”
Senior goalkeeper Brennan Donville agreed.
“They play a very up-tempo style so definitely this week at practice has been very up-tempo in preparation for a great Albany team,” Donville said.
Both players also emphasized that maintaining a team-first mindset will be essential against Albany as well as the rest of the opponents throughout the season.
“Our goal every weekend is just to play our style of game and … make the hustle plays — that’s what wins games,” Petterson said. “We always just focus on us-first, and we try and focus on our play, and we really just want to kind of play to the best of our ability.”
Part of staying within oneself is taking each week and match one at a time.
“We have such a young team, so the goal is to just be better than we were the last two games and just kind of make every week, every practice, every time we’re together, make it better than the last,” Donville said. “It’s noticeable every day at practice how much better we’re getting [and] how much the younger guys are adjusting to the college game.”
With a number of young players on the team, head coach Matt Kerwick continues to emphasize the importance of senior mentorship. When the freshmen look up to the seniors as role models, that can make for a very cohesive group.
“We [have] always [had] an expression on our team,” Donville said. “We say ‘well done is better than well said.’ If there’s something you want the freshmen to do, if there’s a way you want them to play or way you want them to act when they’re with Cornell lacrosse, you don’t tell them how to act that way [but] try to show it every day in practice.”
It appears as though Donville’s efforts are working.
“I think they’re really helping lay the foundation for how to be a good Cornell lacrosse player and good Cornell teammate,” Petterson said when asked about the mentorship from the seniors. “They’re really showing us — both through vocal leading and through their actions — just kind of how things are done the right way.”
Cornell has one of the best lacrosse teams in the country, so its freshmen are always very experienced and talented. This makes the mentorship not so much about lacrosse skills but rather about what it means to be a lacrosse player representing Cornell.
“Everyone who comes to Cornell to play lacrosse is a good player, so telling them how to play the game isn’t necessarily as important as just to show them how to be a Cornell lacrosse player, how to fight for ground balls, how to make the hustle plays [and] how to do all the little things,” Donville said. “I know when I was a freshman [and] watched seniors make those kind of plays, that kind of gave me the confidence and it … showed me what it would take to be a good player at this level.”
Ivy League play does not begin until March 19th and the conference and NCAA tournaments are not until May, so the Red has plenty of time to develop. But it is essential to take the season one game at a time, and right now the focus is on No. 15 Albany.
Play against the Danes begins this Saturday at 1 p.m.