May 3, 2002

M. Lax Hopes for NCAA Bid at Hobart

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Although the men’s lacrosse team’s (9-3, 4-2 Ivy) schedule has only one unfinished game remaining, the Red is hoping that the right combination of events will take place and catapult them into the 12-team NCAA tournament. The only one that Cornell has control of, however, is tomorrow’s clash with upstate rival Hobart (6-6, 5-1 Patriot).

The Red, which won nine straight games and reached No. 5 in the nation before falling to Ivy enemies Princeton and Brown, is still on the bubble for the tournament, but it would take a win over Hobart, losses by other bubble teams, and some positive consideration from the tournament selection committee. Cornell’s defeat of No. 1 Syracuse is its ace in the hole come selection time. Still, the point is moot unless the Red can take down the Statesmen.

“If the selection committee is consistent, I believe we have a decent chance of getting in,” head coach Jeff Tambroni predicted regarding the future after a potential Cornell win. “We have to hope some other things happen.”

If last year’s contest is any indication, Cornell has the edge. A 5-0 first quarter and three Michael Egan goals keyed an 11-3 win over Hobart at Schoellkopf. The victory was the first time the Red beat the Statesmen since 1995.

On the other hand, the game is in Geneva, N.Y. and Hobart’s Boswell Field provides a unique advantage for the Statesmen: a grass playing surface, something Cornell hasn’t experienced yet this season. On the grass field, the footing is not as secure and ground balls lose speed and come to a halt much quicker on the natural turf.

“You have to run out shots, you have to run out passes, because nothing goes out of bounds,” explained Tambroni.

In preparation for Boswell’s surface, Tambroni has had his troops practicing on the grassy Robison Alumni Fields this week instead of the Schoellkopf artificial surface. According to the coach, the team has adapted well to the new playing surface.

“This week has been an extremely productive week of practice,” he noted.

In between the pipes for Hobart will be Mike Borsz, who has started all 12 games for the Statesmen this season, posting a .582 save percentage. In last season’s contest with the Red, Borsz stopped 16 shots.

Hobart also features a trio of dangerous attackers in John Bogosian, Scott Harvey, and Nate Hill, who have combined for 87 of the team’s 186 points this year. Midfielder Tim Booth is also a threat to score as well as a formidable foe in the faceoff circle for Cornell senior faceoff specialist Addison Sollog.

Similar to the Red, Hobart brings a physical style of play to the field.

“This is a team that plays a lot like we do,” said Tambroni, invoking the “blue collar” work ethic that characterizes Cornell.

Tambroni is actually quite familiar with the Statesmen lacrosse program — he was an All-America for Hobart when he played for the then-Division III Statesmen in the early ’90s. As such, there’s a special significance for the Red coach when he returns to take on his former team.

“It’s always special to go back to the place that you played,” he said, although since this is the third time Tambroni has seen the Statesmen from the other bench, he discounted the importance.

Another factor lessening the nostalgia for Tambroni is the opportunity to take Cornell to the postseason.

“Now there’s so much more that we put into this team that there’s little implication in our thoughts on [Hobart].”

Win or lose tomorrow, Tambroni was clear that this year’s edition of the Red lacrosse program was a special one.

“I thought our guys in a lot of ways overachieved,” he said. “The heart and commitment that they made to the lacrosse program has made our coaching staff proud to be a part of the Cornell tradition.”

Although the accomplishments of the Red are indeed noteworthy, this year’s greatest addition to that tradition could still be yet to come: a win over the Statesmen and an NCAA tournament bid.

Archived article by Alex Fineman