The No. 14 men’s lacrosse team (4-2, 1-0 Ivy) takes to Schoellkopf Field tomorrow at 1 p.m. against the No. 20 Pennsylvania Quakers (4-2, 1-0 Ivy). With an NCAA birth riding on a near-perfect Ivy League season, head coach Jeff Tambroni and his team fully understand the threats that Penn brings.
“First and foremost, we have to win possessions off the faceoff X, and hopefully secure more offensive opportunities than they do,” said Tambroni. “They’re a very good faceoff team and I think we’ve been just okay there in the past couple of weeks.”
Penn’s junior Ethan Haire currently boasts a .546 win percentage in the faceoff circle. Senior Jake Martin is also a part of Penn’s offensive system and currently leads the team with 16 points. Still, Tambroni is most concerned about Penn’s 10-goal midfielder, Alex Kopicki.
“He’s possibly one of the best midfielders we’re going to see all year so we’re going to have to do a real good job of containing his looks at the cage,” Tambroni said. “We’ve just got to make sure that when he’s on the field we get the pole to him as much as possible.”
Going head-to-head with Penn’s explosive midfielder will be senior Frank Sands, classmate and All-American Ryan McClay, and junior All-American Tim DeBlois. Currently the group has combined for 68 groundballs, and have allowed a meager 9.17 goals per game with junior Brandon Ross in net. When necessary, Ross has also carried the team, earning a .538 save percentage on the season.
While Cornell opened up offensively last weekend against Yale, the team may not be able to produce as well against Penn. The key to winning this week will lie in solving the puzzle that is the Quaker defense. While Tambroni noted that Penn may change its defensive configuration several times, he also felt that the Red was prepared to handle it.
“I think our guys are capable of playing against all of them,” said Tambroni of Penn’s defensive sets. “We just gotta recognize what they’re in first, be patient and then create looks.”
The biggest wildcard tomorrow, however, may not involve the veteran players on either team. Several Red freshman have already provided big contributions to the lineup, such as attack Joe Boulukos who has seven goals and one assist on the season. Classmate Joe D’Arrigo has come up big in the faceoff circle with a .507 win percentage on the season.
Likewise, Penn also has plenty of freshmen waiting to contribute to its team.
“If we were playing [Penn] in the first game of the season I’d say their weakness would be some of their freshman because they play so many of them,” said Tambroni. “But I think right now, six games in, and they’re starting to get much more experience and much more maturity. I think right now they’ve adjusted to the college game and it’s no longer a weakness for UPenn.”
Regardless of the Quaker midfield, defense, or freshmen, don’t look for Cornell to change it’s style of play.
“We’re a team that does it off the ground and does it with hard work, and enthusiasm, and excitement on gameday. We tend to grind out victories in the defensive end and that’s the way I want to keep it because that’s our personality, it’s who we are and how we’ve been successful.”
Archived article by Matt Janiga