April 18, 2003

M. Laxers Battle Princeton for Ivy Supremacy

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Old rivals will meet again tomorrow at noon when the No. 9 men’s lacrosse team (7-3, 4-0 Ivy) welcomes No. 2 Princeton (7-2, 3-0) to Schoellkopf Field for a showdown that will likely determine this year’s Ivy League champion. In what is quickly becoming an annual ritual, the league’s two remaining unbeaten teams will meet for the 63rd time as the Red attempts to snap a seven-game losing streak to the Tigers.

With a win tomorrow, Cornell would clinch at least a share of the Ivy League title, as well as the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, something it has not accomplished since 1987. But, as the Red is well aware, this task will be anything but easy.

“There’s no doubt that we’re going to have to have a full team effort to be able to compete with Princeton this weekend,” said Cornell assistant coach Bill Wilson. “We can’t rely on one or two players on the offensive end or one or two players on the defensive end. It’s going to take a balanced effort on both ends of the field.”

Last season, the Red got a taste of just how dangerous Princeton can be, as the Tigers opened the third quarter with a 5-0 run to put away an otherwise close game. All-American Ryan Boyle scored one goal with three assists in the game. The junior will pose an equally great threat this year, despite the fact that tomorrow will be just his second game back from a hamstring injury.

“We thought that maybe coming off of his injury, maybe that would slow him down a little bit, but he came right out and had six assists against Harvard,” Wilson said. “If he’s not the best attackman in the game right now, he’s at least in the top two with the guy from Syracuse, [Michael] Powell.”

The Tigers have also enjoyed tremendous production from Sean Hartofilis, who is averaging an NCAA-leading 3.3 goals per game. He is currently on pace to break the Princeton record of 53 goals in a single season.

Defensively, Princeton has been among the top in the nation this season, allowing only 7.22 goals per game. Goalie Julian Gould ranks seventh in the country with a 7.29 GAA, which is an improvement of nearly a full point over last year’s mark. In addition, 2002 All-Ivy first teamer Damian Davis has allowed his mark to score only one goal in the last five games.

The Red enters the game following a convincing 13-5 win last Saturday at Dartmouth. Nine different players scored for Cornell, a trend that the Red must continue to enjoy similar success tomorrow.

“There’s no doubt that we’re going to have to have a full team effort to be able to compete with Princeton this weekend,” Wilson commented.

Cornell will need to be in top form in every aspect of its game. Often times this season, either the offense or defense has stepped up and carried the team while the other unit struggled. However, against a team of Princeton’s caliber, such a lackluster effort can be disastrous.

“We can’t rely on one or two players on the offensive end or one or two players on the defensive end, its going to take a balanced effort on both ends of the field,” said Wilson. “Not just the offense clicking and wait for the defense or vice versa.”

Historically, the winner of the Cornell-Princeton game has been crucial in determining the Ivy League champion. Winners of 37 out of 47 Ivy titles all time, these two teams are prepared for what is likely a repeat of that scenario this year.

“It’s certainly our next step towards an Ivy League championship,” said Wilson.

Archived article by Owen Bochner

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