The last two times Syracuse’s men’s lacrosse team visited Ithaca, cloudy skies and torrential rains provided the backdrop for stunning, heart-stopping wins by host Cornell. Fittingly, rain is in the forecast again tonight, as eyes of the collegiate lacrosse world will once again be on Schoellkopf Field, when the No. 11 Red welcomes the No. 4 Orange for the 90th meeting between the longtime foes.
Both squads enter the contest riding momentum from impressive performances in the past week, hoping to continue their fortunes into the home stretch of the season.
Cornell (5-2, 2-1 Ivy League) enters the game riding the energy of its 600th victory in program history, a 9-8 overtime thriller Saturday afternoon at Harvard. Syracuse (7-1), meanwhile, enters tonight’s game after defeating No. 19 Loyola, 13-8, Saturday at the Carrier Dome. It was the Orange’s fourth consecutive victory, with the team’s only loss of the season coming at the hands of No. 1 Johns Hopkins on March 20.
“When you play a team like Syracuse — it’s an athletic team, extremely talented offensively,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni, “if you allow them to play the pace they play, you’ll be in trouble.”
Syracuse, the nation’s top-scoring offense, is led by the double threat of Michael Powell and Brian Crockett. Powell leads the nation with 42 points on 18 goals and a team-high 24 assists. Meanwhile, Crockett has shown no ill effects of his move from attack to midfield this season, as he leads the Orange with 24 goals.
Brian Nee, Sean Lindsay, and Kevin Dougherty also contribute to a Syracuse offense that averages a highly prolific 14.63 goals per game, almost two full points more than its nearest challenger.
After falling to Johns Hopkins in last year’s national semifinal, Syracuse has been as strong as ever this season. The team’s only blemish came in its fourth game of the season, a 17-5 road loss to the Blue Jays. The 12-point loss was the Orange’s largest in 13 years. However, since then, Syracuse has exorcised those demons, victorious in its last four straight, including wins over No. 6 Princeton and No. 10 Brown.
“They’ve worked out any kinks,” Tambroni said. “[The loss] was more along the lines of a wakeup call. The Hopkins offense took a lot of good angle, high percentage shots. The Syracuse offense played a lot of the game just watching Hopkins. They’ve really addressed their faceoff concerns. It’s still a very capable and talented lacrosse team.”
Cornell, winner of four of its last five games, brings one of the nation’s top defenses into tonight’s showdown. The Red boasts the fourth-best man-down defense in the nation, killing off 88 percent of opponents’ opportunities. Defensively, the Red is led by senior co-captain Tim DeBlois, who has marked Powell in each of the last three contests between the two teams.
On the offensive end of the field, junior Sean Greenhalgh has had his way with the Syracuse defense over the past two seasons. In two career contests against the Orange, Greenhalgh has scored eight goals. After scoring a goal and an assist Saturday at Harvard, Greenhalgh has now scored at least one point in each of his last 18 games. With his 90 career goals, Greenhalgh sits in ninth place on the Red’s all-time scoring list, two behind Eamon McEneaney ’77, Tom Marino ’78, and Bill Marino ’76.
Senior co-captain Andrew Collins, who has scored a point in 11 straight games, is in sixth place on the team’s all-time assists list with 80, two behind Al Rimmer ’71.
While Syracuse has a commanding 55-33 series lead, the Red has won the last two games at Schoellkopf Field.
“The Carrier Dome can be a very difficult place to play for anybody. If you haven’t been there before, it’s very hard to focus,” Tambroni said. “But the guys are very comfortable here. The weather has been conducive every time they [Syracuse] come to town.
“But we still have to play and play well when opportunities present themselves. We have to be at the right place at the right time.”
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor