March 13, 2008

Passion Plays Into M. Lax Home Win

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For the first time this year, the statistical dominance that was obvious almost every game last year for the men’s lacrosse team was present again in the Red’s 14-3 victory over Canisius yesterday afternoon. But what caused the statistical dominance wasn’t the traditional stat sheet fair.
“Overall as a team, we played with more passion, which is what we needed,” said senior John Espey, who led the Red in scoring with two goals and two assists.
That passion translated into increased possession time gained though picking up 36 ground balls to Canisius’ 18, a virtuoso performance at the faceoff by senior co-captain John Glynn — winning 11-of-13 — and an aggressive riding game that forced 9-of-25 clears.
[img_assist|nid=28811|title=Just passing through|desc=Junior attacker Chris Finn recorded a hat trick against Canisius yesterday. High energy was a key element of the Red’s first double-digit victory of the season.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
For a team that took 50 shots but only netted 14 of them, the extra possession was necessary.
“We thought this game was going to be won and lost off the ground,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “We thought we could maintain more possessions off the ground, through the faceoff ‘X,’ and most importantly through the ride. Then, if we didn’t score, we could at least create unsettled situations and more possession time. That’s where I felt like we were able to secure the majority of possessions.”
Indeed, several Cornell goals came in those unsettled situations where the defense was reeling and the offense hadn’t set up shot yet. Goals like junior Chris Finn’s exclamation point to end a third quarter in which the Red outscored the Golden Griffins 4-0.
Cornell’s riding game effectively got the ball back in the hand of sophomore Christopher Ritchie, who fed Finn streaking to the cage. Finn dodged past his defender and buried the shot to make it 10-3.
Canisius brought out a different goalie to start the fourth quarter.
That goal was also the first time Cornell has hit double-digits on the young season.
“That’s something we’ve been striving for,” Glynn said. “Finally to break that double-digit mark — that took a load off of our backs. We knew that Canisius was a good team, but we thought we could put double digits up and we’re just happy did.”
The Red’s dominant play off the ground also kept the defense off the field for longer periods of time. For the game, the Golden Griffins only got off 18 shots.
“I just thought our defense played really solid,” Glynn said. “We’re starting to communicate more, [senior goalie] Jake [Myers] is starting to get a lot more leadership under his belt. When Jake starts talking and our defense starts talking, they’re one of the best in the country.”
Unlike the last outing where Myers and freshman goalkeeper Matt Martinez switched at halftime, Tambroni kept Myers in until the game was well out of reach with just over 11 minutes to go.
Also communicating in the backfield was senior Matt Moyer, who has taken over for departed co-captain Mitch Belisle ’07 as the main long-stick defender. Moyer was charged with the task of defending Nick LoCoco, who was coming off a one-goal, seven-assist outing for Canisius.
“We’ve been calling Moyer out because we expect him to be that guy,” Glynn said. “When he plays like we know he can play, he’s a beast. He’s in your gloves, he’s clearing the ball, he’s riding. He’s everywhere. We expect him to do that and when he plays like that it’s just fun to watch and it gets the defense going. He’s definitely one of the quarterbacks down there.”
The Red was also 3-for-3 on extra-man opportunities, probably the only area they consistently finished in on the afternoon.
“We have enough talent and the right guys out there,” Espey said. “We just weren’t finishing [on the extra-man opportunities] for whatever reason. Today was a big step in the right direction.”
As was the game as a whole. Tambroni restated that a win is a win and will always move the team in the right direction and help it find its character, while Glynn talked about the increased comfort and team play the Red has been searching for this season.
“As a whole, I think our team is playing better together,” Glynn said. “We just have to pick up the energy a little bit.”