After a disappointing 2017 season marked by a slow start and an improved finish, Cornell men’s lacrosse will enter its 2018 campaign with high expectations.
The team starts its campaign with a new coach, after Matt Kerwick’s resignation from the helm at the end of last season. Interim coach Peter Milliman took the reigns and preached playing the team’s best brand of lacrosse from the moment he took over.
“We’re looking to play some better lacrosse [this season],” Milliman said. “We’re looking to work as hard as we can on the details and being a sound fundamental team.”
Cornell Athletics announced in May that Milliman would serve as interim coach through the 2018 season and that the search for a new coach would begin after the team is finished this spring.
“It’s always a great opportunity to lead a program like this,” Milliman said. “It’s really a special place to be, and I’m honored to have the opportunity.”
The team began last season with a resounding 20-10 defeat at the hands of Penn State and would lose four more before finding its first win against Colgate on March 21.
“I think at the beginning of last year everyone was a little bit confused,” said sophomore attack Jeff Teat. “As the season went on, offensively, we definitely started to click more.”
This year, the Red will look to collect its first win more than a month earlier than it did last year, and hopes to find it against the same team, traveling to take on the Raiders in its season opener on Saturday.
“I think that’s a big progression from last year to this year,” Teat said. “We’re taking a step forward, not starting from the beginning.”
After last season’s 0-5 start, the team bounced back, winning five of its last eight games, including a shocking upset over then-No. 9 Princeton in its final game of the season. Cornell will look to carry that momentum straight into the opening faceoff this weekend.
Cornell returns much of the core that helped it improve on the back end of last season. All six Cornell players who registered double-digit point totals in 2017 are returning, including the team’s two leading scorers in Teat and sophomore midfielder Connor Fletcher.
“We’re bringing a lot of offensive guys back,” Teat said. “I think that chemistry that we have right now is really starting to play off of each other.”
Cornell also brings back senior goaltender Christian Knight, who was granted a fifth year of eligibility due to an injury that sidelined him for his entire junior season two years ago. Knight’s 11.92 saves per game ranked 11th in the country last year, and he recorded double-digit saves in 10 of the team’s 13 games.
“It’s an honor and a privilege to have been around here for five years,” Knight said. “I’m definitely excited for one last go at it [because] this team is pretty special.”
The team will benefit from the leadership of 11 seniors looking to make their final mark before graduating, but the team feels that it is in sync across the board heading into its first game.
“We’re looking for great leadership from out seniors,” Milliman said. “[And] we’re looking for an exciting group of guys to get out there on the field and start competing.”
“We’re all very close with one another,” added senior captain Jake Pulver. “We enjoy hanging out in the locker room and just getting after it on the field.”
Cornell’s opening matchup with Colgate starts at 1 p.m. this Saturday in Hamilton.