Four men’s lacrosse players were honored by Inside Lacrosse last week, being named to the magazine’s preseason All-America list. Senior defenseman Ryan McClay was named to the first team, while sophomore attacker Sean Greenhalgh, classmate midfielder Justin Redd and junior defenseman Tim DeBlois were all named honorable mention. Cornell finished 11-4 last year, and was ranked 11th in IL’s preseason coaches’ poll this season.
Of the ranking head coach Jeff Tambroni said, “I think it’s exciting. I think it’s a sign of all the hard work that teams in the past have put in. I think the preseason ranking is a credit towards the 2002 team rather than an honor of the 2003 team. As a coaching staff and as a program, we are happy that number in the preseason has continued to decrease.”
Tambroni was not only happy about the team’s ranking, but also about the recognition four of his players received.
“The beauty of the team [is that] those honors are based on the success of the team; the more successful we are as a team, the more individual recognition we get,” explained Tambroni. “But I believe in my heart that our guys care more about what is going on at each end of the field collectively, versus what is going on with their own accolades or individual honors.”
The first selection went to Ryan McClay, one of the team’s tri-captains, who was a first team All-American selection last year. Representing the U.S. at the World Championships this summer in Perth, Australia, McClay was named the Most Valuable Defenseman for the gold medal-winning team.
Tambroni said of the senior, “I think his greatest attribute to the team is something that no one sees on Saturday or Tuesday night. He has just been one of the most remarkable leaders that I have ever been around. Guys respect him because of what he has accomplished, but our coaching staff and team respect him and believe in him because of how hard he works, how much he cares. And I think that is why he has accomplished the things he has thus far.”
Of his preseason recognition McClay said, “It’s a great honor, but it’s like the preseason polls. They don’t really mean too much because you still have to go out and perform. You could be picked as the best defenseman in the country, but if you don’t play that way it doesn’t matter. You’d like to see that at the end of the season rather than at the beginning.”
For the season McClay just wants the team to work hard. He said his team goal is for everyone “to come out every day, regardless of the circumstance, to just come out and play hard. Whether you make every play or not, as long as you are going as hard as you can, everything else takes care of itself, so just a strong effort every day.”
Also honored was the freshman sharpshooter. Greenhalgh led the team in goals with 39 and became the first Red Ivy League Rookie of the Year since 1986. Greenhalgh finished the season with 39 goals and three assists, leading the team with 42 points. One of his best games last season came against National Champion Syracuse, who suffered one of its two losses to the Red on Schoellkopf Field. Greenhalgh finished with six goals that game.
“Sean is a scorer and that is a tough thing to coach or to replace,” explained Tambroni. “Sean just has a knack for putting the ball in the cage. As a freshman, to score 39 goals in his freshman season is a pretty remarkable accomplishment. He gave us a huge boost in the offensive end because he makes all your hard work pay off. He finishes the play that everyone else has started and worked so hard to get to the point to where we get the ball in his stick.”
“It was great to be noticed as a possible All-American for the upcoming year,” said Greenhalgh. “In one way I’m extremely excited, but it’s just a preseason thing; I still have a lot to do this season. And it doesn’t matter if I have a great season, I am more worried about how the team does.”
The third honor went to Greenhalgh’s classmate, Justin Redd. After finishing third on the team in goals with 20 and adding 11 assists, Redd will return to the midfield line.
“Justin just got better as the year went on,” stated Tambroni. “His strongest attribute is his ability to create off the dodge and I know we’re really excited about his future here at Cornell. He allows us the ability to dodge against a long stick, or create some offense off the midfield, which we’ve had in the past in small doses, but with Galen Beers [’02] graduating, he steps in and fills that role very well.”
On receiving the recognition, Redd said, “It’s a great honor, and I’m really excited, but at the same time there is more pressure to perform at that level because someone out there thinks that I can. I’m really looking forward to the challenge of meeting these expectations.”
Joining McClay in the back is the fourth honoree, Tim DeBlois, who will return to his starting role as a close defender. DeBlois had one assist last year and picked up 42 ground balls.
Tambroni said of the junior, “It was great to see him mentioned, because I think he is a very underrated player and I hope that this year he will play like a top ranked defenseman in the country, like we know as a coaching staff and as a team he is capable of.”
“I was happy,” said DeBlois of learning of the recognition. “It’s still preseason, but it’s kind of a culmination of hard work, and it’s an honor, but more importantly I hope that I can contribute to the team goals this year. Its nice to have individual goals like that, and individual honors, but when it comes down to it, what we want to do as a team is more important because I’d rather have a championship ring at the end of the year than be a first team All-American.”
DeBlois and his teammates will take their first step towards a ring at their first game March 1 against Georgetown at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss