March 5, 2007

Men's Lacrosse Beats Irish

Print More

If the men’s lacrosse team’s first game against Binghamton was a cupcake game, then Saturday’s game against No. 8 Notre Dame was like steak — tough, but still tasty if done right.
In only its third game of the season, No. 4 Cornell (3-0, 0-0 Ivy) used an 11-1 run against the Irish (2-1, 0-0 GWLL) to come out on top 13-8.
Playing the game in Hewlett, N.Y., in front of many Cornell alumni and close to many of the player’s homes, the Red came out of the locker room pumped up.
[img_assist|nid=21838|title=Scoop It Up|desc=Sophomore midfielder Rocco Romero attempts to pick up a ground ball in the Red’s 13-8 victory over the No. 8 Notre Dame Fighting Irish this past Saturday.|link=none|align=left|width=67|height=100]
“The excitement level was unreal,” said senior attackman Brian Clayton, who led the Red with four points on the day. “Guys were just constantly patting each other on the back.”
The enthusiasm actually hindered Cornell’s play in the first period, however, as the team committed seven turnovers to the Irish’s two, and the teams found themselves knotted at a goal a piece after 15 minutes of play.
“I think towards the beginning of the game, a lot of people, including myself, were trying to go to the cage by themselves,” said sophomore attackman Max Seibald. “We were just being machines in an offense instead of just trying to play the game. When we all started playing with each other and feeding off each other, things began to work. Instead of just sticking with just the play … when things were open we went with that.”
As play progressed into the second quarter, the Red players began to relax a bit, and the ball started moving. After Notre Dame All-GWLL attacker Brain Hubschmann found the back of the net to tie the game at two four minutes into the period, Cornell took off on a five goal streak, highlighted by back to back goals from sophomore Chris Finn, who only had three career points coming into this season.
“I thought we shared the ball a lot better in that second … quarter,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “I felt like early our players were committing to dodges and Notre Dame was doing a very good job of defending them and we weren’t allowing the ball to flow enough to create secondary dodges or to create assisted goals. … Once the ball started moving through … we created a lot of good looks a lot of easier looks for us, … inside looks where it is a little easier to score. In the first period we were taking a lot of shots on the run.”
Tambroni stressed that had the Red not started creating opportunities around the cage, there would have been no way the team could have put up double-digit goals on the Irish’s All-GWLL goaltender Joey Kemp.
“We took 48 shots and scored 13 goals … that’s a great shot-to-goal ratio,” Tambroni said. “What we asked of our guys is to just to shoot strong shots against this goalie and not waste opportunities. If you’re under pressure … or if you’re a little bit outside range we just asked our guys not to pull the trigger, maybe move the ball on to somebody else who maybe has a better location on the field so that we aren’t giving up transition opportunities to Notre Dame.”
An abundance of opportunities on offense allowed the Red middies and attackers to be selective and patient with their shots. Senior Tommy Schmicker had a strangle hold on the face-off battle, winning 18-of-24 — a significant step up from last year’s matchup with the Irish where the Red came away with possession 4-of-17 times in the draw circle.
“It’s unbelievable to see how much easier it is to score on the offensive end when you just have the ball more,” Clayton said. “Their defense starts to get tired because we’re down on the offensive end running two lines of middies … back and forth just constantly rotating. …We’re constantly running fresh. … We even had a second line of attack just going in there, doing rides and rotating in for them too. … I think we wore them down a little bit in terms of even their spirits. Once we started hitting some of our shots they started to kind of back off a little bit and become a little bit more relaxed and that’s when we really stepped on the gas peddle.”
Although Notre Dame netted a goal 37 seconds into the third period to make the score 7-3, Cornell charged back again with five straight tallies, building its largest lead of the day at 12-3. The Red continued its aggressive attacking, continuing to dominate the shot totals, putting up 14 to the Irish’s seven in the third after reeling off 17 to Notre Dame’s four in the second. Tambroni thought that the lack of touches and shots for the Irish’s offense began to frustrate the team’s leading scorers, Hubschmann and Michael Podgajny, making them try to force some things on offense.
The Red continued to push on offense, creating second chance opportunities by picking up 23 ground balls to the Irish’s 15 over the pivotal second and third stanzas. Seniors David Mitchell and Henry Bartlett both netted back-to-back goals over the final stretch that put the game out of reach.
The Red’s aggressiveness became a little sloppy towards the end of the third, however, as the Irish made a late run, scoring five times over the last 17 minutes of play.
“When you’re playing as aggressive as we’re playing, when you’re playing a fairly aggressive style … you are going to throw the ball away a little bit,” Tambroni said. “If we weren’t winning face-offs, if [senior co-captain] Matt McMonagle wasn’t making saves then it would be a major concern. … It certainly hurt us at certain points in the game. I know we gave back a couple of fairly easy opportunities off failed clears. … It’s not an alarming statistic, but it’s not something we’re happy with.”