April 5, 2002

Men Try to Remain Undefeated in Conference Play

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The men’s lacrosse team (6-1, 2-0 Ivy) is currently leading the Ivy League standings by half a game and ranked 10th in the nation. So while tomorrow’s matchup at No. 19 conference foe Harvard (4-2, 0-1) might seem like an important game to the Ancient Eight standings and national rankings, Cornell just sees it as another game.

“I’m hopeful that our guys don’t think about any of that stuff aside from just Harvard. Our goal this week has been to eliminate distractions,” explained head coach Jeff Tambroni.

“What we’ve been doing all season is taking it one game at a time,” concurred senior Billy Fort. “We’re trying not to look at the standings or the national rankings, because it’s an outside influence. The only thing we have to worry about right now is the Harvard game.”

Taking its schedule a game at a time has worked well for the Red over the last six games, which have all been wins. Two of those victories came on the road against ranked teams — an 11-9 defeat of No. 14 Penn State and a 7-4 win over No. 15 Penn.

“Fortunately for us, I feel like we’ve played well on the road,” remarked Tambroni. “We got some pretty decent wins against Penn State and University of Pennsylvania on the road, so I’m hoping that trend will continue against Harvard.”

A trend that Cornell already has going against the Crimson is a three-game win streak. No member of either team’s current roster has ever played in a Harvard defeat of the Red.

“[Losing] is just something we don’t wanna do,” said Fort. “It’s harder now to lose to them knowing that we’ve won the last three years and knowing we’ve put in so much more work and effort than they’ve seemed to put in.”

Last season’s contest against the Crimson resulted in a decisive win for Cornell. Departed attackman David Key ’01 scored a career-high seven goals, outscoring Harvard on his own in a 16-3 shellacking.

Despite the lopsided score, the Crimson goalie, sophomore Jake McKenna, is an integral part of Harvard’s defense. With a year’s experience under his belt, McKenna has posted a .639 save percentage. Still, the Red has experience facing strong goalies.

“We go against [senior goalie] Justin Cynar every day, who is one of the best goalies in the country. I think we’re pretty well prepared, so I think if we shoot the [scouting report] on him, hopefully we’ll be successful,” sophomore Andrew Collins said of McKenna. “But he is a very talented goalie.”

Midfielder Doug Logigan, whom the Red recruited, will also be a threat for Cornell. His junior classmate, attackman Matt Primm, leads the team in points with 19. At 6-3, 230, Primm will be the biggest player on the field.

“He’s going to pose some matchup problems for us, just because of his size,” Tambroni said of Primm. “I’m hopeful that we’ll just do a good job in understanding their strengths and just try to keep them away from their strengths.”

In Cornell’s lineup, Collins has a team-high 22 points, and two-time Ivy League Rookie of the Week Sean Greenhalgh paces the Red with 17 goals. In the cage, Cynar sports a .533 save percentage.

Tomorrow’s game provides the Red with a good opportunity to pull away from Yale and Princeton, which don’t have Ivy games scheduled this weekend. Even so, Cornell isn’t paying attention to anyone other than Harvard right now.

“We’re not thinking about the standings. We haven’t been looking at the computer or reading the newspapers all week, we try to focus on one game at a time, not focus on what Princeton’s doing or what Yale’s doing,” concluded Collins. “We’re just trying to focus on what we and Harvard will be doing on Saturday.”

Archived article by Alex Fineman