The Cornell men’s lacrosse team will be back in action this weekend when it takes on Brown. The Red will remain at home in Ithaca, where it has a 1 p.m. matchup with the Bears at Cornell’s own Schoellkopf Field tomorrow afternoon.
The No. 8 Red (8-3, 3-1 Ivy League) will be taking on a tough Brown team (6-5, 2-2 Ivy League) that is coming off of a convincing 14-7 victory over Providence and will be looking to carry the momentum from that game to Schoellkopf.
The Red will seek to shake off last Tuesday’s tough loss, 8-7, to now No. 1 Syracuse. The Red was downed by the Orange when, in a scene eerily similar to last year’s National Championship game, Syracuse attacker Chris Daniello put the ball past Cornell goalie A.J. Fiore with less than a second to go in regulation.
Despite the loss to Syracuse, the Red moved up two spots in the national rankings last week and will be looking to defend that top ten spot when it takes on the Bears.
“[The game against Syracuse] has been a motivating factor through the past week or so,” said senior co-captain and defender Pierce Derkac. “[It] was a big step for us this season and we’re just trying to carry that momentum into this game and basically focus on Brown. It’s a big weekend this weekend and we’ve got a big scene up against us with everything that’s going on. We’re just very excited to compete against Brown.”
Cornell’s play has been stellar most of the season, with its only real blemish coming in the form of a loss to unranked Dartmouth.
Individually, the Red has been led by sophomore attacker Rob Pannell, who notched his 100th career point against Syracuse last Tuesday, senior attacker Ryan Hurley, who has tallied at least one point in his last 43 games and freshman goalie A.J. Fiore, who recorded a career-high 20 saves against a powerful Syracuse offense last week. Derkac has also been a team-leader and is a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS award.
The Bears have had a tough season and it is entirely possible that their record is not a true indication of their actual talent. All five of Brown’s losses have come against ranked opponents, and in each game the Bears lost by no more than a three-goal margin. Additionally, it was in only one of those games did the team score less than ten goals. The season lows for the Bears aside, Brown is known for its high-powered offense.
“When we try to clear the ball they try to put a lot of pressure on and…they try to force unsettled situations and get it to that talented attack that they have,” said senior co-captain and attackman Ryan Hurley.
With five players already over the 20-point mark, including junior attacker Andrew Feinberg who has recorded 31 points, the Red defense will need to shut down the Bears in order for the Red offense to work its magic. However, Hurley is confident that the Red’s defense has what it takes to contain the explosive Bears.
“Senior captain Pierce Derkac…lead[s] those guys back there, they do a great job,” he said.
As the Red takes the field against the Bears tomorrow, the players may have other things than just lacrosse on their minds. Six years ago, Cornell captain Mario St. George Boiardi ’04 was struck in the chest by a shot while playing a game against Binghamton at Schoellkopf Field. He collapsed and was immediately rushed to Cayuga Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. After the game, the Red will unveil a plaque to commemorate the life of Boiardi.
On Sunday, the Red will again honor the life of Boiardi by hosting the Sixth Annual Mario St. George Boiardi Memorial 21 Run. The 5k race will begin at 12:21 p.m., leaving Cornell Plantations, with registration at 10 a.m. The registration fee is $15 per runner/$30 per family, with proceeds going to the Family Reading Partnership of Ithaca.
The Red acknowledges that it will hold Boiardi’s memory particularly close this game, but maintains that it does every game and that Boiardi inspires the team to give its best each and every time it takes the field.
“Before every game Coach DeLuca mentions it, Coach Tambroni mentions it –– ‘Give a George Boiardi-like effort’ –– which means go out there any play hard, do the little plays to the best of your ability,” Hurley said. “Coming into this game we’ve talked about it a lot, the specialness of dedicating a plaque, but we’re going to try to not add too much pressure on ourselves with that. We’re just going to go out there and play like we have been through the year and give a George Boiardi-like effort like we try to every single game and hopefully that will be enough.”
Derkac agreed, stressing the importance of this game.
“There’s going to be a lot of people coming back [to see] this game who are part of the Cornell Lacrosse Family,” Derkac said. “We want everybody who is a part of Cornell Lacrosse, everybody who is at that game, to see the product that we’re putting on the field [as well as] the legacy that everybody in the past has put into Cornell Lacrosse. We’re trying to have them see that we are carrying on that legacy the right way and playing Cornell Lacrosse the way it should be played. George Boiardi definitely was the epitome [of that and] we take a lot of pride in carrying on his traditions on and not letting go of how he led his life and led out program.
A win over the Bears on Saturday would put the Red in prime position to win it’s eighth straight Ivy League title as the Red (currently second in Ivy standings) travels to New Jersey next weekend to take on an Ancient Eight foe, first in the Ivy League and sixth in the nation Princeton.