While it might not be Cornell’s marquee matchup in the 2005 season, this afternoon’s 4 p.m. game against Binghamton (0-3) at Schoellkopf Field will be an emotional one. It was in this same game almost a year ago when Red captain George Boiardi ’04 tragically passed away after being hit in the chest by a shot.
And although many minutes, hours and days have passed since that extremely somber afternoon, traces of the Red’s leader are still found everywhere. Photos and memorabilia of George are pasted on the walls of the men’s lacrosse office. A locker can be found with a number 21 jersey and a “Boiardi” name plate on the top. But most importantly, he is still and will always be, in the hearts of each one of his Cornell teammates and coaches.
“In regards to what happened last year, we’re just going to try to make it as game-like as possible without the outside distraction, realizing that our guys our young, still very emotional, still very close to the occurrence,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “The memory will not be far from anybody’s hearts or minds as we walk on the field, but hopefully, our guys are going to be able to concentrate and take care of business.”
No. 12 Cornell (1-1) will host the Bearcats in an attempt to bounce back from a tough, 11-9 loss to No. 8 Army on Saturday. After Cornell won its home opener against No. 9 Notre Dame a week and a half ago, the Red could not find its rhythm against the Black Knights, falling prey to a 7-1 Army run in the first two periods from which it could never recover.
“I think you’re always disappointed when you lose, especially watching the game afterwards and seeing some of the easy plays that I think we normally make that we didn’t make, and some tough plays that we should’ve be making but we didn’t make,” said senior co-captain Sean Greenhalgh.
In preparation for this afternoon’s game, Tambroni said that the team had a comparatively more energetic practice on Monday, and said that the team still needs to continue to work hard and do the little things if it wants to gel and be successful for the rest of the season.
“I was upset after the Army game, and I was still upset at practice [on Monday],” Tambroni said. “But the bottom line is that regardless of how disappointed everyone on our staff or our team was, we lost to a good team and we’ve got to think of ways to get better versus laboring the issue at hand and thinking back.”
Even though Binghamton is winless in its 2005 campaign, the 2004 America East regular season champions have faced stiff competition thus far. After losing its first contest at No. 20 Villanova, 5-2, it proceeded to drop its next two games against No. 16 Hobart and Drexel 10-7 and 8-4, respectively. The Bearcats have not had the luxury of playing at home so far this season.
“I think that Binghamton is a pretty darn good lacrosse team,” Tambroni said. “We’re expecting a pretty hard-fought battle here … I think we have got to be very disciplined, very patient offensively and create the best shot available every time down.”
Binghamton’s America East 2004 Coach of the Year, Ed Stephenson, has a number of standout players which the Red will be on the lookout for. In attack, the Bearcats will be led by sophomore Matt McNamara, who currently leads the team in points, with five, and recorded 22 goals and 23 assists last year.
But, Binghamton’s true strength is on defense. Last year, the Bearcats were ranked first nationally in goals against average and are led by sophomore All-American honorable mention goalie Kevin McKeown. McKeown has allowed a paltry 7.67 goals a game in the 2005 season.
Binghamton’s defense will force Cornell to work on its shot selection. While the Red took 51 shots against Army, it will have to work as a unit to be able to convert in its chances.
“At the Army game, we took a lot of shots and didn’t capitalize on as many as we would’ve liked,” said senior Justin Redd. “The shot selection is just going to come from more team efforts as opposed to individual efforts.”
The Red will hope to penetrate the Bearcats’ defense through the attacking trio of seniors Greenhalgh, Redd and Kevin Nee. Greenhalgh leads the team in goals with seven, while Nee has six points on the year and Redd is first on Cornell in assists with five. In addition, junior midfielder Joe Boulukos has five goals and three assists in two games, while sophomore Brian Clayton is coming off a two-goal performance against Army.
According to senior co-captain Kyle Georgalas, the team must refocus and evaluate themselves as individuals and as a group coming off the Army loss. And while it will be hard to block out the memories from last year, the team has one goal in mind today.
“I think it’s definitely difficult to not let your emotions run wild here, but obviously we have a game to win as well,” said senior Kyle Miller. “It’s a very important game for us as they all are now from here on out.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor