March 29, 2002

M. Lax Battles Penn in Philadelphia

Print More

Heading into its second consecutive weekend of conference play, the men’s lacrosse team (5-1, 1-0 Ivy) runs into the squad that most closely resembles itself when it travels to Franklin Field to play Penn. Tomorrow’s game should be a contest of two strong defenses: the Quakers (5-1, 1-1) are rated second in the nation (6 GAA), while the Red is third (6.5 GAA).

Both teams have found success in low scoring games against lesser teams. Cornell’s only loss came against No. 6 Georgetown; Penn lost to Yale, a team the Red beat 8-4 last Saturday. However No. 12 Cornell is ranked ahead of No. 15 Penn in the USILA/STX poll.

“They’re very similar to us in a lot of ways,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said, “in the way they defend, in the way they play offense, [it] is very similar to the way we play offense. So we told our guys tonight it’s going to be a matter of who does it better on Saturday.”

And despite some streaky play in its last few matches, the Red has found a way to win.

Last year, Cornell outlasted Penn in an overtime game — one that the Red could have lost had not then senior David Key ’01 scored the sudden death goal for the 10-9 outcome.

“Last year’s game was a pretty exciting win, but it was a narrow victory. We had an opportunity to lose in overtime. They took a shot, and Justin Cynar thankfully made a save, but I think our guys are still hungry. The revenge factor comes into play a little bit more,” Tambroni said. “I don’t think our guys feel great about last year’s win.”

“I think they’re pretty excited and hungry for this year’s game because of the recognition that Penn’s defense has gotten,” he added.

The difference may be found in the offense. Penn’s attack centers around Scott Solow and Ivy League co-Player of the Week Mike Iannacone. They have 14 and eight points respectively.

The Red has scored on average about three goals more per game and boasts more balance on the offensive end. Freshman Scott Greenhalgh leads Cornell in goals (14) while the other Ivy League co-Player of the Week, sophomore Andrew Collins has the most points on the team (20 on 11 goals and nine assists). Senior Billy Fort and junior J.P. Schalk also have double digit points.

But don’t expect either team to put forth a stellar offensive output, as the defense corps will most likely dictate the game. Transition offense will likely take the back seat to half-field sets and six-on-six play. Faceoffs and special teams may also be a deciding factor, even though Penn is a disciplined team.

“The team that’s willing to give the extra effort, the team that’s willing to invest a little more of their heart on Saturday is going to be the team that wins,” Tambroni said, stressing that ground balls and outhustling the Quakers will a key in the game.

“I’m hoping that our guys will bring that type of a game on Saturday — bring a little more of a war on Franklin Field than the game of lacrosse,” he added.

Now that the team is entering the heart of the season, Cornell is starting to concentrate on its conference play. Tambroni believes the rivalry will surface in tomorrow’s game.

“Our guys are going to bring a little extra energy and a little extra enthusiasm into the game this weekend because it is UPenn,” he said, continuing, “it has nothing to do with the ranking and it has nothing to do with their defense. It has everything to do with Cornell and Penn, and because the University of Pennsylvania is another Ivy League school.”

Archived article by Amanda Angel