The men’s lacrosse team seems well-armed to face Army on Schoellkopf Field tomorrow – as is demonstrated by a No. 6 national ranking, a perfect 2-0 record on the season, and a seven-game winning streak at home dating back to last season.
All these assets on paper could mean nothing, however, if the Red cannot match the Black Knights’ physical play between the lines, a trademark of the program that gave the Red trouble and propelled Army (1-2) to an 11-9 win over Cornell in the two teams’ last meeting on March 12, 2005.
“Trouble’s probably an understatement,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “I felt like it was a game we were capable of winning, but Army, to their credit, played a lot harder than we did [and] played a lot more intelligent than we did.”
Although Army will be fighting to even its record at .500 this weekend, its only losses in the 2006 campaign came at the hands of No. 7 Syracuse and Lehigh, a squad on the verge of breaking into the top-20 polls.
“I don’t think Army has played their best lacrosse yet,” Tambroni said. “They got off to a tough start. They played Syracuse at Syracuse for their first game, so that’s a tough one and I think you can really throw that one out. … They’re probably thinking that a win over Cornell brings them right back into the fold, and I’m sure it will.”
To keep the Black Knights at bay, the Red will need to shut down first-team All-America attacker John Walker, who has led Army with five goals and eight assists this season. Walker will be looking to add to a career goals total that is closing in on the all-time record at Army.
Cornell will also need to find a strategy to fight past preseason All-America selection Matt Luyster – last season’s Defensive Player of the Year for the Patriot League – and goaltender Adam Fullerton, who has posted a .466 save percentage and a 10.33 goals against average. Tambroni is also wary that the extra lift that comes from being an underdog will bolster a Black Knights roster that is already known for its tough play.
“When you play against a team like Army you know that you’re going to get a very hard-working, very hard-hitting, very physical type of lacrosse team and I don’t think our guys responded very well to them last year,” Tambroni said. “We know we’re going to get an energetic and very physical lacrosse team traveling to Ithaca [today] for our game [tomorrow] and I’m just very, very hopeful that our guys understand what’s at stake.”
Senior co-captain Joe Boulukos will lead the Red on the attack, and has five goals and two assists on the season. Junior David Mitchell, who posted two goals in a 9-6 victory over No. 12 Notre Dame on March 4, will also have an impact on the game. Junior Derek Haswell has also emerged as a scoring threat for the Red, recording four goals and three assists this season. Classmate Matt McMonagle anchors the Red defense in net with a .625 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average.
“A lot of those guys that played on last year’s team can live and learn from that particular mistake that we made last year [against Army],” Tambroni said. “I’m hoping … that we’ll go in there with the preparation and the mentality and the focus that we’re going to need to compete against this team.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Sports Editor