April 19, 2001

Rivalry Revisted

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Tuesday wasn’t only the date of my dreaded CS 100 prelim. Two and a half hours before the 7:30 starting time of my test, there was an equally important event on the Cornell campus — namely the men’s lacrosse game against Hobart College.

Although the event marked the first time in six years that the Red beat the Hobart team and kept its search alive for a bid to the NCAA tournament, the significance of the game was apparent by the two men sitting to my right in the press box: John Desko and Bill Tierney.

Desko is the head coach of Syracuse, the No. 3 team in the nation. The Orange had already beaten the Red at the Carrier Dome a week before. Being a hop, skip and jump away from Ithaca, he sat scrutinizing all parts of the Hobart squad, his team’s adversary come April 24th.

Princeton’s head coach, Tierney, didn’t avert his eyes from the other team, though.

With a little under a minute to go, Desko rose out of his chair, picked up his car key and notes, and began to walk out of the press box. Within seconds, Tierney called out, “You’ll be home before 8:00.”

But Tierney remained in his seat. He sat attentively memorizing senior David Key’s shot selection and sophomore Ryan McClay’s defensive posture. Even though his team will play Hobart eventually, the man was concentrating on one thing: how to beat the Red.

After watching the final seconds tick off the clock, the New Jersey native departed for his own four-hour trip home, hoping aloud that he wouldn’t catch the freak snowstorm on I-380 that had nicked him on his way to Ithaca.

It was then that I realized the amount of pride riding on this weekend’s contest which will unofficially but undoubtedly name the 2001 Ivy League lacrosse champion.

Two of the last three Cornell men’s lacrosse games have been promoted as meetings between so-called “rivals.” After redeeming his loss from the prior year, Desko admitted that that he didn’t think of Cornell as a rival.

Hobart is also subject to the same designation because of its close proximity to Ithaca. But the Patriot League school doesn’t spark the competitiveness that one expects from a Red Sox-Yankees matchup or an Avalanche-Red Wings game.

Princeton is the real rival.

For the last two years, Cornell and Princeton have fought tooth-and-nail for the Ivy League championship. And both times Princeton won, with the Red as runner-up.

For all of you that savoured last year’s defeat of Syracuse, a win on Saturday would match that and more. It would extinguish Princeton’s strangle-hold over the league. (The Tigers have won or shared eight of the last nine Ivy lacrosse titles).

The game is bigger and more important than the Syracuse game from last year. The winner gets a guaranteed trip to the NCAA tournament. The loser remains on the bubble. So when the men take the field Saturday, they will enter the most anticipated game of the season.

Just ask Tierney. Not every head coach braves a snowstorm and eight hours of driving for a little game of lacrosse.

Archived article by Amanda Angel