April 11, 2001

Blue Collar Effort By M. Lax No Match for Syracuse's Stellar Individual Play

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There are four words that epitomize the Cornell men’s lacrosse team, and they are blue collar work ethic. The Red prides itself on its scrappy, hard-working style of play, diving and chasing after ground balls and fighting for face-offs. Cornell tried the same against No. 3 Syracuse yesterday and lost to a team brimming with athleticism and talent.

The blue collar work ethic did not fail the Red, but rather it was the extremely talented Syracuse team that outdid Cornell. After all, neither the Orange, nor most other teams, can really be categorized as a white-collar. The smaller Cornellians were engaged in a 60 minute war which involved more physical play than any other adversary has posed against the Red.

Cornell had seven penalties in the game, almost seven times its usual number.

The Red, which usually takes advantage off ground balls, was severely outdone by the revenge-hungry ‘Cuse. Of the unusually high 69 ground balls in the game, only 30 total were captured on Cornell’s part. Compare that with the 16 more ground balls the Red had than Harvard last Saturday.

“When you win the ground ball effort, it is really an indication that the team is playing hard and going after loose balls. And that’s always a good statistic for a coach to see,” Syracuse head coach John Desko explained.

Desko’s maxim certainly proved true in last evening’s game, as his team captured 39 of the ground balls — 17 off of faceoffs alone.

The ground ball war is a barometer Cornell uses to rate its performance and exemplify its resolve to work and fight hard on the field.

Unfortunately, that was not the case last night. Cornell fought as hard as Syracuse, but lost on overwhelming athleticism and skill the Orange poses in its roster.

“I don’t think that [Syracuse] necessarily outworked us. i just think that we made four more mistakes than they did. Our blue collar work ethic is not going to change,” asserted senior tri-captain Bobby Werhane.

True to Werhane’s words, some of the Red’s most gallant plays were indicative of its blue-collar work ethic. When a Syracuse defenseman a Syracuse defenseman twice his size charged Cornell Billy Fort, he not only stood his ground but also tripped up Bliss who catapulted the ball out of bounds.

Also, Fort’s classmate and faceoff specialist Addison Sollogg, who continued to scrap with Chris Cercy even though Cercy refused to give much of anything. Sollogg adjusted his technique, making sure that the Orange couldn’t start a fast break.

Then there was junior Galen Beers who despite falling behind by five goals scored with 58 seconds caught Syracuse goalie Rob Mulligan off balance, scoring Cornell’s 10th goal. Cornell was only the third team this year to get double-digits on the board and only the second at the Carrier Dome.

These were small heroics, but these were individual feats.

“We have to go out there and play as a team,” bemoaned Tambroni.

The blue collar work ethic wasn’t lacking. The cohesive team effort wasn’t necessarily missing. It was just that Syracuse showed, that one-on-one, it can beat the world.

“Their individuals beat our team,” agreed Werhane.

Archived article by Amanda Angel