March 14, 2007

M. Laxer’s Pittard Facilitates Offense for Red

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If the men’s lacrosse team were to be assigned the nicknames of the And-1 traveling streetball team, senior attackman Eric Pittard might be the equivalent of “The Professor.” Soft-spoken and unassuming, when game time rolls around, Pittard is often at the helm of the Red’s offense.

“He’s a guy who handles the ball a lot and sees the field extremely well,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “With guys like [senior] David Mitchell and [sophomore] Max Seibald on the field and [Pittard’s] handling the ball and distributing to guys like that, we’re in great shape.”

Pittard is the consummate modest leader, however.

“I guess,” he responded when asked if he saw himself as the “quarterback” of the offense. “I see myself as that and an attackman. I see myself as one man of six guys out there. Especially this year, we’re not a one-man team. In the past, we might have relied on one guy more, but this year any guy might shoot at any moment. We have a very unselfish offense.”

To get to the point where Pittard could simply be “one man of six guys” in a fluid offense, Pittard had a long car ride and a level of comfort he had to attain first. Two school years ago, Pittard was pursuing lacrosse at the University of Virginia before deciding to transfer to Cornell in the fall of 2005.

“I’ve adapted to the school life here at Cornell,” Pittard said. “It’s definitely a shock coming here from UVA, which isn’t a bad school but this is definitely an Ivy League school. Now a year into it, I’ve got the school part of it down, which makes things easier.”

Tambroni noticed that last year around this time, Pittard finally found his footing, allowing him to excel on the pitch.

“Not only are you changing the way your team’s playing and trying to fit in to the way a team’s playing, but you’re coming in and trying to adjust to new friends, new teammates, new classes, new environments and that’s a lot to handle for a young man that’s 21,” Tambroni said. “He had to adjust to a lot of different things. I would say right about the Duke game last year, he just started to feel a lot more comfortable with the guys he was playing. He probably felt like he was accepted at that point. It takes a lot at that age. Especially as athletes, you are required to earn that respect coming on to a particular team through practices, through your dedication in the weight room, in conditioning.”

Now entrenched in his position, Pittard can work on asserting himself, both as a player and as a leader.

“Coach Tambroni has spent time with me becoming not just a feeder but a dodger,” Pittard said. “… I’m also not really a loud person. Coach keeps working on me to become more of a leader. It’s something I need to work on but it’s definitely a work in progress.”

“It’s OK to be a quiet leader,” Tambroni said. “But certainly there are times as a leader when you have to impose your will and voice your opinions. I think he does that from time to time, but I still think he needs to have the consistency of that passion every day. I think when he does that he is a very difficult attackman to stop.”

“We talk every week,” Pittard said. “I talk to her before and after games. I just tell her to keep her head up. I tell her to work hard and things will fall into place.”