After coming off a huge win over then-No. 10 Notre Dame last Saturday, the No. 6 men’s lacrosse team (1-0) hopes to continue its auspicious start when it heads to West Point to battle No. 15 Army (1-1) tomorrow.
In its home opener at Schoellkopf Field against the Fighting Irish, Cornell used a five-goal performance by senior Sean Greenhalgh and a period where it held Notre Dame scoreless for almost 30 minutes, to earn an 11-10 win.
“I think it was great for us to get off with a win over a ranked opponent,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “We’ve asked our guys to kind of wipe the slate clean, and have a short memory of that win so that the value of the win doesn’t distract or hurt us going into this week’s preparation against Army.”
Along with Greenhalgh’s five-point effort was a three-assist performance by senior Kevin Nee, while junior Joe Boulukos also added three goals and an assist in the win.
While Cornell came out as the victors against Notre Dame, the team did not come out to the fastest starts against the Irish, trailing 6-3 midway through the second quarter. Tambroni said that he did not feel his team warmed up well as well as he would have liked because they were so excited to play.
“I think everybody relaxed [later on in the game] and fell into a comfort zone that allowed us to play a little bit more like the way I hope we will play as the season goes on,” Tambroni said.
Similar to Notre Dame, Army will provide another stern test for the Red. The Black Knights have a number of talented players, including the attacking duo of Jim Wagner and John Walker. Wagner accounted for five goals, an assist and 11 shots on goal in the team’s 10-7 win over Lehigh last weekend, while Walker added three more points.
On the defensive side, Army’s senior goalkeeper Matt Darak will provide one of the largest obstacles to the Red’s attack. Darak, who was named the Patriot League’s defensive player of the week after making 14 saves against Lehigh, also helped his team limit No. 5 Syracuse to nine goals in its season-opening loss to the Orange.
“I think whenever you play Army — this weekend or any other weekend — you can always expect a big, tough, physical lacrosse team that’s going to play for 60 minutes endline to endline, sideline to sideline,” Tambroni said. “They make you earn everything you get. I think we’re prepared for that.”
Wagner and Walker will have to try and get past a Cornell defense led by senior co-captain Kyle Georgalas. Georgalas and the team’s defense held Notre Dame’s All-America attackman Pat Walsh to a goal and two shots, while suffocating the entire Irish offense during the extended scoreless stretch. In addition, Cornell’s sophomore goaltender Matt McMonagle stopped 14 Irish shots in the win.
Yet, Tambroni knows that Army’s attack will be a tough proposition to handle.
“If we lose track of guys like Walker and Wagner, they’re going to score goals, period,” he said. “But I think if we could do a good job of making sure that we keep those guys in our sights and do a good job of playing team defense on the rest of the guys, it’ll give us a chance to succeed defensively and hopefully, give ourselves a chance to make stops.”
While the frigid and unpredictable weather has forced the team to practice in a variety of locations this week, Tambroni said that this will help his team adjust to different environments and stay on its toes.
And with the Red opening up its season with two talented opponents, Tambroni said that his squad is simply trying to find where it is as a team as it faces some of the country’s top competition.
“I think if we can … exceed [Army’s] intensity, exceed their passion, and let the rest kind of play out, that would be a good formula for success,” he said.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor