April 11, 2000 — The last day the Syracuse men’s lacrosse team faced the Red on Schoellkopf Field. It has been called one of the greatest memories in recent Cornell sports history. The laxers escaped with a 13-12 win over the then No. 1 Orangemen, marking the first time they had defeated a top-ranked team since the 1976 NCAA championship game against Maryland.
Today’s 5 p.m. showdown finds the Red with a No. 9 ranking, the same slot it occupied heading into the 2000 contest with Syracuse. The visitors, meanwhile, are again seeded as the best team in the nation.
The Orange enters this afternoon’s match coming off a decisive 16-5 victory over No. 3 Loyola. Senior attackman Josh Coffman, one of the squad’s most potent offensive weapons, netted three goals to go along with as many assists in the contest. Despite the lopsided score, Syracuse was outdone by most statistical counts. The Greyhounds won the ground ball battle 51-39 and edged their hosts by a 17-8 count in draw controls.
Although Cornell’s defense, anchored by junior preseason All-American Ryan McClay has been among the best in the nation, it will have its hands full with Syracuse’s high-octane offense. Coffman and teammate Michael Powell have combined for 78 points — 31 greater than the Red’s two highest scorers, freshman phenom Sean Greenhalgh and sophomore Andrew Collins.
“They have four of the best 12 offensive players in the country so you have to do a good job of matching up on their personnel,” head coach Jeff Tambroni noted. “Against Syracuse you really have to rely on the matchups. And you hope that you can slow them down or limit their looks at the cage to give us an opportunity to defend them.”
The Red’s defense has turned in some stellar efforts of late. On the season, the unit has held five of its opponents to five goals or less, a feat it has not accomplished since Cornell was runner-up to the national title in 1987.
To be successful against its visitors, the laxers must slow down the tempo of the game. The Red prefers a slower, more methodical style compared to run-and-gun Syracuse.
“If you can take them out of their rhythm a little bit and slow the ball down a little bit, it gives you a chance because you’re taking them out of what they want to do,” Tambroni said.
“We don’t want to play their style,” added sophomore defenseman Tim DeBlois.
Historically, the two teams have not played many closely contested games. Over the last 20 meetings, the average margin of victory has been 7.7 goals. Cornell, has played extremely well on its home turf recently, outscoring opponents 40-13 and collecting 13 wins in its last 15 contests at Schoellkopf.
Tambroni used a deeper roster in the second half comeback at Harvard on Saturday and will hope to rediscover success with the tactic when the Orange comes to town today. It will also have to battle with the superior depth on ‘Cuse’s bench.
“They’re athletically deeper than us,” DeBlois admitted.
Today’s date with Syracuse will be the first time the Red has faced an opponent in the Top 10 since its opening day loss to Georgetown.
Said Greenhalgh: “You always want to play the best and you always want to beat the best, and we have an opportunity to do that tomorrow. It’s opportunities like those that you can’t let pass by.”
Archived article by Gary Schueller