Chants of ‘Orange’ reverberated through the men’s lacrosse locker room Saturday after the team (6-2, 3-0 Ivy) just edged out Harvard for a 6-5 win. No sooner than that game had ended then all attention was focused on tonight’s match-up against No. 3 Syracuse (6-2) at the Carrier Dome. Cornell is ranked No. 13 in this week’s Warrior/Inside Lacrosse Poll.
“With just a short week of preparation, there’s not a whole lot you can do,” explained head coach Jeff Tambroni. “Against a team like Syracuse, you just want to make sure your team is comfortable with their surroundings when we go up to the Carrier Dome. We just need to do what we do and do it well. I know we don’t have to play the perfect game to beat Syracuse, but I know we’re going to have to play one of our best games to date.”
The match-up of the two central New York powerhouses is becoming an important rivalry, especially for this year’s senior class.
“I think our freshman year, no one outside of our team expected us to beat them,” explained senior tri-captain Ryan McClay. “When we did pull that off, even we were surprised. But after that win, we always look at this game as one that we have the potential to win and I think Syracuse is seeing that we can contend with them. From our standpoint, it’s obviously a big game because we’re playing Syracuse. And we’re not going out there trying not to lose; we’re going out there looking to win.”
Syracuse has 14 wins in the past 16 match-ups with Cornell. The Red’s first win came in 2000 at Schoellkopf. That victory ended the Orange’s perfect season, and served as the team’s only loss that year en route to a national championship. The Orange took the win at home 14-10 in 2001, but again it was the Red who knocked off the number one seed 15-11 at Schoellkopf in 2002. However, the last time Cornell won consecutive games against Syracuse was in 1987.
After a torrential down pour, Cornell opened the first quarter of last year’s game by netting six goals, with three coming from sophomore Sean Greenhalgh. The team had a 6-2 lead after the first quarter.
In the second period, junior Mike Powell helped out in all four of Syracuse’s goals, tying the score at six to enter the half. The third quarter saw the two teams trade goals, but Cornell increased its lead on tallies by Greenhalgh and junior Andrew Collins and the team went up 12-9 to enter the fourth. In the final quarter Greenhalgh netted his sixth goal of the day to finish all scoring, with the Red taking the game, 14-11.
Currently on a five game winning streak, Cornell is looking to extend it to six and replicate last season’s success. Still, the question remains: can the Red win at the Dome?
The team has continued to improve throughout the season, with its offensive output increasing with each game, seeing output from both the attack and in the Harvard game, from the midfield. Currently Collins leads all scorers with 32 points. Greenhalgh has 31 and junior transfer Dave Pittard has 16.
Defensively McClay, junior Tim DeBlois and senior Chris Viola have formed a strong back, supporting junior keeper Brandon Ross. Ross currently has a .545 save percentage.
The men in orange are on a three game winning streak after beating No. 11 Loyola 17-6 in Baltimore on Saturday, and are currently riding high after its basketball team won the national title last night. Leading the team is senior All-American Michael Springer who is at the top of the stats list with 20 goals and 16 assists in eight games. Close behind is junior All-American and Tewaarton Trophy winner Powell who has netted 17 goals and 18 assists. Returning to the offense after sitting out last season for personal reasons is senior Liam Banks, a two-time All-American honorable mention and was named the Most Outstanding Player honors for the NCAA tournament in 2000. After battling an injury at the start of this season is back in the lineup and has already made his presence known netting five goals and adding nine assists in four games.
On guarding the trio, Tambroni said, “It’s easier said than done, but you try to keep the ball away from those three as much as possible. You definitely don’t want to give them any easy looks. If they’re going to score, we want to make them work for their goals. We’ll try to slide as much as possible to get after them. In comparison to any team you play, they’re as capable as anyone with a guy on them, or two guys on them.”
The explosive Syracuse offense is known for its fast breaks and ability to score off of transitions. In order to stay in the game, Cornell will need to limit and stop the team’s run-and-gun play.
“Obviously they have a very potent offense, just look at the names on attack,” explained McClay. “They are a team that likes to fast break and score on transition. If we can limit that I think we have a chance of being successful tomorrow.”
Tambroni also notes how important it is to slow down the Orangemen. “They can get up and down the field so well and certainly have as much or more fire power than anybody in the country.”
He later added, “We certainly don’t want to exceed the speed limit too much, up and down the field, because I think that’ll be to their advantage. We just have to eliminate running from offense to defense in unsettled situations as much as possible.”
Defensively the team is also very strong led by senior captain Sol Bliss and sophomore keeper, Jay Pfeifer. Pfeifer currently has a .526 save percentage.
Although Cornell may have been rooting for the Syracuse basketball squad last night, it is well prepared to take on its now all too familiar foe at 7 p.m. at the Carrier Dome.
Archived article by Kristen Haunss