April 17, 2001

Upstate Rivalry Part II: Hobart Visits M. Lax

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If history is any lesson, today’s men’s lacrosse match against Hobart (4-3) will be mightily contested until the final whistle. Cornell (6-3, 3-0 Ivy) will look to change the course of part of the history of the series tomorrow as the senior’s seek their first victory over the central New York rival and the Red’s first win in the last five years over the Statesmen.

The Red, which dropped last year’s tilt in Geneva, N.Y., is coming off a 10-5 victory over Dartmouth last Saturday. Cornell used a high-octane performance in the second-half to compensate for a lackluster beginning to the game, setting up a showdown with Princeton on East Hill next Saturday to determine the Ivy League champion. However, the Red most not overlook the task at hand.

Players attributed part of last year’s defeat to a lack of focus.

“Last year, we were riding high from the Syracuse win and looking ahead to the Princeton game,” sophomore defenseman Ryan McClay said.

“We definitely took them lightly,” added senior tri-captain Bobby Werhane.

Head coach Jeff Tambroni believes his troops have enough motivation in the form of revenge to not be bothered by thinking ahead to Saturday.

“No guy in our locker room has ever beat Hobart,” he explained.

The No. 20 Statesmen come to Schoellkopf looking to avenge a 17-5 setback at the hands of No. 8 Georgetown. If the Red looks to share the Hoyas’ success, it must employ the full 60-minute effort Tambroni has preached all season. That means starting with the type of intensity and offensive onslaught that has typified its play this season and avoiding the lethargic effort during the Dartmouth game.

“We were tentative and played without a whole lot of emotion,” Tambroni bemoaned.

As has been the case all season, the Cornell coaching staff has prepared thoroughly for its opponent. Tambroni, a three-time All-American at Hobart, knows the type of team he will face this afternoon. He is quick to dismiss an emotional component to facing his alma mater for the first time as a head coach.

“I don’t feel it’s going to come into play. Over the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to play them as an assistant coach. It was much more difficult to go to play at Hobart. I feel this is my home now,” the coach noted.

Hobart sports an up-tempo attack built on creating transition opportunities.

“They run the ball up the field hard. They try to create as much scoring opportunity that way as possible,” Tambroni said.

Key to the Red’s ability to stem the run-and-gun style of the visitors will be the play of face-off specialist junior Addison Sollog. Cornell will need to put forth another blue-collar effort at the face-off X. Sollog should have his hands full with his counterparts, the duo of Joe Leska and Tim Booth. Tambroni called the tandem a “two-headed beast,” and stressed the importance of gaining possessions to curtail the transition opportunities of Hobart.

Sophomore defenseman Ryan McClay will be charged with the formidable task of covering the Statesmen’s most prolific scorer, senior Jamie Breslin. The sophomore is seeking revenge for last year when he was torched by the attacker’s four goals.

“He’s a quick player,” McClay said.

On the flip side, senior tri-captain David Key will be marked by the tenacious Mike Hatton. Key has been the spark to the Red’s offensive consistency of late and the team will continue to look to him to pace its scoring.

“We’re expecting a hard fought game from both teams. Both feel their backs are against the wall,” Tambroni observed.

“It’s definitely going to be physical,” McClay added.

Junior netminder Justin Cynar, the recipient of a game ball for his stellar effort in last Saturday’s Dartmouth outing, has the potential to set the tone for the game.

“He made some pretty big time saves at Dartmouth. Justin is playing with more confidence and when Justin plays with confidence our team plays with confidence. His plays gives us opportunities for clears and offensive transition,” the coach summed up.

With revenge on its mind tomorrow and a chance for an first Ivy League title come Saturday, these next couple of games have huge ramifications for the Red.

“This is the most important week to date in our lacrosse program,” Tambroni noted.

Archived article by Gary Schueller