February 27, 2004

Laxers Face Hofstra

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Tomorrow’s men’s lacrosse matchup at Hofstra marks the earliest Cornell has ever started its season. Yet despite the shortened preparation time and the loss of several key veterans, this year’s team feels it has something other squads have lacked in their season openers: chemistry.

“There’s more chemistry with this year’s team, there’s more balance with this year’s team. We don’t have a superstar like Ryan McClay ’03, but I think we have some awfully talented players,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni.

“I think that we have a lot of talent offensively and defensively. The main thing we’re stressing now is playing together,” said senior captain Andrew Collins. ” Our main focus we have is using the talent we have, playing with a lot of emotion, and playing as a team.”

“I think this team is a lot different than last year’s team,” Tambroni said. “With some of the veteran players we have and with the team chemistry we have, we’re very hopeful that if the pre-season is any indication of where we are, that we’ll go down there and take the next step,” he added.

But Cornell’s next few steps will be challenging, let alone this first one. After finishing last season with a share of the Ivy title, the team was snubbed in a three-way drawing when Dartmouth was given the conference’s automatic NCAA bid. The road back to a conference title, and an NCAA tournament bid will be tough, especially with Cornell playing several elite teams over the next few weeks.

“Three of our first five games are against top-ten teams, and I think that’s a lot of pressure, but I think that’s the way we like it,” Collins said. “It gets us excited to start the season off with some top teams in the schedule.”

Currently rated as the 11th best team in the nation, Hofstra returns seven starters from last season’s 11-6 squad. Among them is midfielder John Keysor, a true offensive threat who was Hofstra’s third best scoring option last season. Joining Keysor as a pre-season All-American are defensemen Brett Moyer and Brian Zuchelli. Honors aside, Cornell knows it will have to play focused lacrosse in order to compete with the Pride.

“When we played against them last year, they were an aggressive team, and they liked to push out on offense,” Collins said. ” We’re expecting the same aggressive team this year, and now it’s just a matter of if and when we match their intensity.”

“Our goal is to play as hard as we played last year, but to play much more like a team,” Tambroni added. ” That was the problem last year — we played horrible because we just played like individuals — and Hofstra exposed us a great deal.”

Tomorrow, however, the Red hopes to take the field with fewer holes and a lot more scoring options. Joining the constant duo of Collins and junior Sean Greenhalgh are a more mature Joe Boulukos and Justin Redd in the midfield. Junior Kevin Nee and senior Dave Pittard will also provide additional scoring options from the attack position.

“This year we have a few more weapons offensively and I’m hoping they’ll be available this Saturday,” said Tambroni. ” Now we’ve got five guys in the offense who have played a great deal together, which we’re hoping is going to give us more chemistry in terms of routine.”

“The way Andrew and Sean work together, that’s still going to be our go-to-duo, but in terms of our offense in general, I think we’re going to be more multi-dimensional offensively which is going to make us much more dangerous,” he added.

Archived article by Matt Janiga