February 26, 2007

M. Lax Handles Bearcats

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Just like the snow that swirled around Schoellkopf Field last Saturday, the men’s lacrosse team ran circles around Binghamton for most of the afternoon on its way to a 19-4 win in the season opener.

For an offense largely considered to be centered around sophomore Max Seibald, the Red received contributions from players up and down the lineup. After sitting out a year with a torn ACL, junior John Glynn led the offensive barrage with four goals and two assists, nearly doubling his career total of seven points.

“You know Max is going to get a lot of atten tion, so me and some other guys have to step up,” Glynn said. “It felt great just to be back, so I just went out there and started playing.”

After what head coach Jeff Tambroni called a lethargic effort in the team’s final scrimmage against Johns Hopkins, the Red came out with renewed energy at the first face off. Despite its energy, a small, tightly packed crowd huddled together and saw both teams struggle with their passing early.

“We were enthusiastic and passionate enough to get through some early mistakes,” Tambroni said. “We did throw the ball away a lot certainly. Our stick work leaves a lot to be desired at this point in the season, but hopefully we’ll put a lot of time and effort into that.”

Nonetheless, Cornell opened the scoring just under four minutes into the contest when, off a quick counter attack, the Red wove the ball downfield to behind the Bearcats’ goal.
Glynn, surveying the field from behind the net, found senior David Mitchell streaking down the middle, who handled the ball only briefly before finding the back of the net.
“Coming into today’s contest, I felt like we did a good job for the first time in preparing against ourselves,” Tambroni said. “Practice got more competitive. … We were really going after each other in practice, and I think we got fortunate early because we had a couple of decent chances early and the game could have gone either way early. But the fact that we got a couple of points up on the scoreboard there allowed our guys to play more confident and relaxed.”

Mitchell’s goal was the first of five points on the day for him and got the Red offense going. The team started zipping together some short passes, moving up the field quickly, taking advantage of a Binghamton offense that could not get set itself up. As the first quarter progressed, the defense continually set up the offense, forcing nine turnovers in the first period, and 29 for the game, compared to 19 for the Red. With 15 minutes in the books, Cornell had staked themselves a 3-0 lead.

One of the goals came when senior Brian Clayton streaked down the sideline, ending up behind the Bearcats goal for split second before a quick 1-2 pass combination from Glynn to senior Henry Bartlett ended with a quick strike over the right shoulder of Bearcats goalie Larry Kline. It was the start of a fine afternoon for Bartlett, who figures to be a key component of the Red’s front line this year after waiting in the wings for most of his career.

“For me it’s been very easy [fitting in with the top line],” Bartlett said. “I’ve played with these guys for a couple of years and we work well together.”

“Henry got a game ball today not necessary for how well he played but because he is one of the hardest working guys,” Tambroni said. “He’s literally the first guy to practice every day. He shows up about 30 to 45 minutes early every day and just shoots and shoots and shoots. He doesn’t do it because he’s looking for the rewards or accolades. He does it because he truly cares about his teammates.”

Binghamton continued to struggle as Cornell controlled the pace. The Red were first to most of the loose balls, picking up 44 ground balls to the Bearcats’ 22. Even when they weren’t able to control the ball right away, Tambroni thought the players did a good job of not giving in.

“I actually didn’t think we did a good job on ground balls,” he said. “I thought we botched a lot of opportunities. But fortunately we just stayed with it and were able to maintain a bunch of possessions. We’ll try to keep working on that.”

Nonetheless, the Red was able to get out into the open field quickly, whipping together short passes to move the ball up the field.

“It was tough out there with it snowing and being slippery,” said senior Eric Pittard. “Short passes just make it easier for ourselves. … We want to be a transition team and back to that. Last year, we slowed it down a bit and were more of a 6-on-6 team, so we want to get guys moving up and down the field.”

The few times Binghamton threatened on the offensive end, the Red’s physical defense shut down the team. In one sequence, the Bearcats worked the ball in behind the Red defense, but before anyone could get a shot off sophomore George Calvert cross checked the player to the ground. Retaining possession on the unnecessary roughness penalty, Binghamton worked it back to the front of the goal again and went for the five hole on McMonagle, who dropped to his knees to deflect the shot away.

“A lot of guys started stepping up in the senior class [this week in practice] which we really needed. Matt’s our captain and you couldn’t ask for anything more from him.”
With a secure 8-0 lead at half time, the Red’s defense relaxed a bit, not knocking down as many of the Bearcats’ passes. Tambroni pointed out that the invert was thus able to streak into the middle of the defense and receive passes directly in front of the goal. However, the Red’s offense kept up tahe pace, notching seven third-period goals of its own, allowing the regulars to sit out the fourth quarter anticipating a quick turn around for their game Tuesday against Colgate.

“Good sit out and watch fourth,” Pittard said. “It was just great to see everyone get a chance to play. It was great to see some of those guys get on the scoreboard.”