February 19, 2007

M. Laxers Drop Final Exhibition to Hopkins

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Johns Hopkins is the No. 2 men’s lacrosse team in the country, and on Saturday afternoon against Cornell, it showed why. The Red received a wake-up call, losing on the road to the Blue Jays in Cornell’s third and last preseason contest. Cornell will look to regroup as it prepares for next Saturday’s regular-season opener against Binghamton.

“[Johns Hopkins] definitely outscored us by quite a bit,” said senior co-captain Mitch Belisle.

Although no official stats were recorded, Cornell unofficially scored four goals against the Johns Hopkins defense. Senior David Mitchell led the way for the Red, netting two goals. Classmate Brian Clayton and sophomore Tommy Schmicker also scored one goal each.

“[My goal] was a rebound goal,” Clayton said. “It was right in front of the crease, where there was a scramble. … I think we took an inside shot in the scuffle, and the ball got shot right in from the ground, hockey style.”

The four scores notwithstanding, Cornell was disappointed in the way it played. According to head coach Jeff Tambroni, the team gave up 13 tallies to Johns Hopkins.

“We did not play as well as we could have as a team,” Belisle said. “It is still a scrimmage, so it was a good learning experience to have now before the season starts. When we don’t play well together as a team, we can be beaten by just about anybody.”

Clayton agreed that the team was not in sync.

“I think we went into the game with a lack of confidence, which was apparent,” Clayton said. “Our offense was not on the same page with the pressure that Hopkins brought on us.”

Tambroni pointed to the team’s lack of intensity coming into the game.

“We didn’t come out and compete the way that these men are capable of, we didn’t approach it with the intensity and seriousness that the scrimmage deserved, and we paid for it dearly,” Tambroni said. “[Johns Hopkins] will make you pay if you are not prepared.”

Johns Hopkins has a more impressive pedigree than Cornell’s previous two exhibition opponents, Drexel and Loyola. The Blue Jays finished with a 9-5 record last season and lost in the NCAA quarterfinals. They won the national championship in 2005. Nevertheless, the Red feels like it beat itself.

“They definitely were more than we had seen the last two weeks, but I don’t think it was so much of a factor that they were better than us,” Belisle said. “We didn’t play to our fullest potential, which is disappointing.”

Despite the team’s disappointment, there were a few bright spots.

“Schmicker, a sophomore face-off guy, did a really nice job,” Tambroni said. “He gave us a spark at the face off, which is a position that we have struggled at in recent years.”

Even with the loss, the team is still retaining its confidence going into the regular season.

“It was a good challenge because they are one of the best teams in the country,” Clayton said. “They came out with more enthusiasm than us. It means what it is, but at the same time, it is not the end-all be-all of the season. We get don’t get too high about the exhibition wins and we don’t get too low about the exhibition losses.”

The game was a reunion between Tambroni and Johns Hopkins coach David Pietramala. Pietramala was head coach of the Red from 1997 to 2000. During that time, Tambroni served as an assistant under Pietramala before the latter left to become the coach of the Blue Jays.

“It has been seven years since he left Cornell, but I consider him the best friend I have in college coaching, outside of the Cornell lacrosse program,” Tambroni said. “It is safe to say that he is one of the best coaches that has ever coached the game, and it showed on Saturday.”