March 4, 2005

Lacrosse a Sure Sign of Spring

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It’s bitterly cold and there is once again about a ton of snow on the ground. Add to that prelims, labs, and job applications, and it seems like winter will never, ever end. Typical Ithacan March.

But there is hope on the horizon. Yesterday they predicted more snow, but instead we got a bright, sunny (albeit frigid) day. It’ll be more of the same today. Slowly but surely, spring is coming. And the best sign of spring will come tomorrow. Because tomorrow, lacrosse season starts.

Nothing against the winter sports, but there is no better news than that to a sports fan. Lacrosse is a quintessential spring sport. One of the thrills of the season is sitting in the sunny Schoellkopf crescent on a Saturday afternoon, watching the Red take an opponent to school. Spring is about getting outside after the long, cold winter. It’s about rebirth. Lacrosse at Cornell exemplifies that.

Both the men’s and the women’s teams enter this weekend ready for renewal. The men’s team, ranked 10th in the country in preseason polls, is hungry to build on the successes of last year’s emotional season. The women’s team, after an down year in 2004, brings in a tremendous recruiting class, ready to begin its return to national prominence. This weekend marks the rebirth of both — the resurrection of a two storied and accomplished programs.

Cornell’s lacrosse history is deep, and every person who takes part in it appreciates that history. Men’s head coach Jeff Tambroni has proven himself as one of the very best young coaches in the country, filling the job named after the legendary Red coach Richie Moran. Every athlete who passes through the program has a simple goal — to leave the program better than how he found it. The upswing over the past several years has been momentous.

The Red has been to the NCAA tournament in two of the past three years, and served as a quarterfinal host last season. Tambroni’s four-year winning percentage of .655 ranks him second in program history, trailing only Moran. Cornell has the fourth-highest winning percentage in NCAA tournament play of all Division I teams. The Red has won three national championships, and has been the runner up three other times. Not many other teams on this campus can lay such a claim.

Cornell’s on-field success aside, lacrosse is an incredibly exciting sport to watch. To a first-time observer, the game was once described as a combination of the best elements of football, basketball and ice hockey. The sport is fast-paced, hard-hitting and involves tons of strategy. Plus, Cornell is always a national contender.

While the women may be coming off a down year, do not underestimate what head coach Jenny Graap ’86 and her team can do. Cornell brings in one of the most highly-touted recruiting classes in the nation, and for a team that is just three years removed from a NCAA final four appearance, the Red has tremendous upside.

The women’s game is different from the men’s game, but remains very exciting. Both teams will play host to Notre Dame this weekend. While the forecast predicts more Ithaca-like frigidity, that will certainly play to the Red’s advantage. It may not feel like spring yet, but you can be sure that it’s here.

Lacrosse at Cornell is one of the best spring traditions there is. The snow has been cleared, the game plans drawn up, now the only thing left to do is to play the games.

Owen Bochner is the Sun Sports Editor. In the O-Zone will appear alternate Fridays this semester.

Archived article by Owen Bochner