The Cornell men’s lacrosse team continues Ivy League play this weekend with a game against Penn, looking to regain positive momentum after the team’s loss to Yale last weekend. The loss marked the first time the Red had fallen to the Bulldogs since 1999.
Cornell (3-3, 0-1 Ivy) has finished on top of nine of its last ten games against the Quakers, but Penn (4-2, 1-0 Ivy) has a very strong team this season and will surely be a tough opponent.
The Red has been focused on this game in practice since the loss to Yale. The team will typically begin a practice week focusing on general lacrosse drills and then gear Thursday and Friday toward studying the weekend’s opponent using tape and special, selected drills.
Freshman attackman Zachary Ward — one of 17 freshmen on the Red’s roster — emphasized that the team will have to win the ground ball battle in order to be successful against a high-caliber team like Penn.
“I think [winning the groundball battle] is really important this week coming after a loss especially,” he said. “We just have to get back to the basics.”
The Red have one of the best face-off and ground ball players in the country in junior midfielder Domenic Massimilian and really hope he will step up this weekend. Massimilian ranked second in the nation last season with 9.38 ground balls per game and is averaging 8.5 this season. He has won the faceoff battle in five of his six games.
Obtaining possession is essential for success in lacrosse, which makes having a good ground-ball player like Massimilian key.
Ward, who has had a breakout season as a freshman, emphasized how veteran players like Massimilian have helped him and the other freshmen transition from high school play. Ward emphasized the speed of collegiate lacrosse as the major difference from high school.
“It’s been a lot faster,” he said. “When I first got here, I realized how the speed of the game is much different in high school.”
Ward had two assists in the loss to Yale and has two goals on the season. Both goals came in the Red’s 6-5 win over Colgate on March 15, when senior attackman John Edmonds fired an assist to Ward for a goal at the buzzer.
Ward described how Edmonds has helped him extensively with the assimilation to college.
“He’s been a big role in my time here,” he said. “He’s really good at letting you know that there will always be peaks and valleys.”
“The special moment we had at Colgate really helped me,” he added.
The lengthy lacrosse season is full of ups and downs for any team, and communication between younger and older players is essential for establishing camaraderie. It is essential the Red take the season one game at a time.
For now, though, the Red are focused on the Quakers. A win this weekend will be essential for establishing positive momentum going further into Ivy League and postseason play.
Play begins at 12 p.m. EST in Philadelphia, PA.