Looking to remain undefeated in Ivy League play, the men’s lacrosse team takes to the field this weekend to face surging Harvard. Things kick off Saturday at 1 p.m., with the Red welcoming the Crimson to the turf at Schoellkopf.
Following last week’s win at Dartmouth, the No. 5 Red (7-1, 3-0 Ivy League) sits in a three-way tie atop the conference standings and will be looking to make that position more exclusive by knocking off Harvard (5-4, 2-0), who also shares the honor (along with No. 10 Princeton).
While the Red continues to dominate in the wins column, having won its last four contests – including 3 Ivy League victories – the team is still not satisfied with the way it has been playing and knows that it will need to step up its game if it hopes to down a team like Harvard.
“We aren’t too happy with the way we got our win last weekend,” said senior midfielder Chip Daugherty. “Our stick-work was poor and we didn’t run our offense. We made a lot of improvements this week and we’ve had a good week of practice so far. We’re really excited to have another home Ivy League game.”
Harvard comes into the contest having won three of its last four, taking down Brown, Dartmouth and Michigan, while losing a tough, 16-8, decision to the No. 2 Massachusetts Minutemen. The Crimson will look to make the most of this recent success as it takes on the Red, having lost to Cornell each of the last 14 times the two sides met.
“We had a good game against them last year,” said senior midfielder Mitch McMichael. “We shut them down pretty good.”
While the Red has dominated the Crimson as of late, the team knows that Harvard is a serious contender this year and is not to be taken lightly.
“We expect to see a really talented team, who’s going to be eager to play a tough game against us,” Daugherty said. “We beat them twice last year – once on their field – and we beat them pretty handily in the Ivy Tournament at Schoellkopf. We look forward to seeing a hungry group who’s ready to take a shot at us.”
On the field, Harvard has received particularly strong performances from senior attackman Jeff Cohen, who leads the Crimson in both goals and points, with 36 and 40 respectively.
“[Harvard] is very specialized,” McMichael said . “Jeff Cohen, no. 23, is obviously their top player. We had a good game plan against him last year, shut him down pretty good, so that’s one guy we have to worry about.”
Squaring off against McMichael in the face-off spot will most likely be freshman midfielder Keegan Michel, who has won 61 percent of face-offs while also leading the Crimson in ground balls with 36. Between the pipes, the Red will be looking to get the ball past junior goalkeeper Harry Krieger and freshman netminder Jake Gambitsky, who will be splitting time. Sophomore attackman Daniel Elipp will also pose a serious threat to the Red, tallying 19 goals and 14 assists for the Crimson this season.
Despite Harvard being a daunting opponent, the Red has spent much of its practice time this week trying to improve its own game instead of preparing specifically for the Crimson, believing that is the best way to prepare for Saturday.
“We’re focusing a little bit less on Harvard and a little bit more on ourselves,” Daugherty said. “We’re getting back to basics and working on fundamentals: stick-work, ground ball play, and getting back to our fundamentals – which make Cornell Lacrosse what it is. We’re focusing more on us this week.”
While the team as a whole feels that it needs to do more to get to the point where it should be, the Ivy League and the NCAA has indeed been impressed by certain Cornell players, with standout freshman attackman Matt Donovan earning his third Ivy League Rookie of the Week award and injured senior attackman Rob Pannell being named a finalist for the Lowe’s Senior CLASS Award.