With the wind surely to be swirling around Schoellkopf Field, the Mountain Hawks from Lehigh University will be swooping into Ithaca this afternoon to take on the Cornell men’s lacrosse team.
No. 5 Cornell comes into today’s game, which starts at 4 p.m., with an undefeated record of 3-0. The Red is most recently coming off a 13-1 demolishing of Army in which 10 different players found the back of the Black Knights’ net. The Red was led in scoring by junior attack David Mitchell, who recorded a hat trick, while classmate Eric Pittard tallied three assists.
However, the real story was the play of Cornell’s defense, which allowed only a single goal for the first time in three decades, shutting down the Army offense all throughout the afternoon. According to head coach Jeff Tambroni, the score reflected not only the effort of his team, but also the fact that Army’s leading attack, John Walker, was not at full strength. At the same time, however, Cornell has conceded less than four goals a game in its three contests this season and the Red limited Army to just 13 shots last Saturday compared to the Red’s 44.
Junior goaltender Matt McMonagle has also been strong in between the pipes for the Red, boasting a .688 save percentage during this young season. He made seven saves against the Black Knights.
Although the Red has a huge match-up on the road next week against No. 3 Duke, Cornell would be foolish to overlook Lehigh, which comes into this encounter with a record of 4-1, after wins over Marist, St. Joseph’s, Army and Mount St. Mary’s. Its victory over Mount St. Mary’s featured two-goal performances from Jeff Wiener and Mike Moran, as the Mountain Hawks out-shot its opponent, 31-16.
In addition, after their win against Army a week-and-a-half ago, Stephen Marino was named the Offensive Player of the Week and captain Jeff King earned the Defensive Player of the Week last Tuesday. Marino leads the Mountain Hawks in points with seven goals and 10 assists, good for 17 points. Wiener has also chipped in nine goals and three helpers in four games.
However, Tambroni said that King is the game-breaker for the Mountain Hawks. Deemed as one of the top close defensemen in his conference and a Second Team All-Patriot League selection a year ago, leading the team with 72 ground balls, King leads a squad that has conceded 4.80 goals per game thus far this season.
King and Lehigh will face a balanced Cornell offense that has averaged over 12 goals per game in 2006. Particularly impressive is the Red’s extra-man unit, which has converted 6-of-10 opportunities this season. Cornell has also seen noticeable improvement on the faceoff “X” since freshman Tommy Schmicker has started to take the role. Schmicker has won 60 percent of faceoffs this season.
After not getting much playing time in his first two seasons, Mitchell has scored 13 goals and recorded one assist in three games. Senior preseason All-American midfielder Joe Boulukos has five goals and three assists in 2006 and freshman midfielder Max Seibald has already made his presence felt with six points. As for senior attack Derek Haswell (4 goals, 3 assists), who did not suit up during the Red’s win against Army, Tambroni said on Saturday it will be a game-time decision on whether he suits up due to an injury.