March 25, 2008

M. Lax Ready to Take On Bearcats’ Defense

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Last year the men’s lacrosse team only failed to hit double digits on the scoreboard twice. Six games into this young season, the Red has already finished four games below the two-digit plateau. This afternoon it might be a struggle to hit double digits again as Cornell welcomes Binghamton, which boasts one of the best statistical defenses on the season.
Through their first three games, the Bearcats (2-2) only gave up four goals per contest, the best in the nation, and also ranked first in man-down defense. However, in its last contest, Binghamton’s defense proved penetrable as Syracuse netted 16 goals. The Orange, however, is ranked No. 2 in the country while Binghamton has floated just outside of the top-20 all season.
Cornell (5-1, 1-0 Ivy), ranked sixth or eighth depending on the poll, hopes to use some of the same strategies Syracuse used in its blowout win. The Orange controlled the possession time and the ground ball advantage, raining shots on Bearcat goalie Larry Kline all day. [img_assist|nid=29085|title=Cavorting Calvert|desc=Junior attacker George Calvert (30) and the Red offense will have a tough task with the Bearcats’ formidable defense this afternoon.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
And as stingy as the Binghamton defense has been this season, its offense has been equally inept.
It has scored 3, 5, 9 and 2 goals, respectively in its four games this year. As a squad, the attack has only netted just under 15 percent of its shots, compared to the Red’s 27 percent. The Bearcat offense is also getting off a full 10 fewer shots per game than the Red offense, and no Binghamton player has reached double-digit points on the season. Cornell’s sophomore Ryan Hurley (19), senior John Glynn (15), junior Chris Finn (14), senior John Espey (11) and sophomore Max Seibald (10) have all reached that plateau.
Hurley especially has been the story of late on offense for the Red. His performance over Spring Break earned him the first Ivy League Player of the Week award after he burst onto the scene with six goals and an assist against Denver before finishing his week off with two goals, including the game-winner, and an assist against Yale. Coming into this season, Hurley was expected to play a larger role offensively but was somewhat quiet until this past week.
Binghamton returned four out of its top-5 point scorers from last season, but none has emerged as the Bearcats’ go-to guy. Chris Mulheron leads the way with seven points on only 14 shots, already matching his goal total from last season. Binghamton’s leading goal-scorer a year ago, Steve Carelson, has struggled this year. He has only put in nine percent of his shots, and has only two goals on the season. Still, his two points are good enough to tie him for third-best on the team.
If history has any bearing, then that would be to the Red’s advantage as it holds a 4-0 lead in the series between the two squads since they started playing in 2004. In fact, Cornell has increased its margin of victory each year against Binghamton, winning by three in 2004, and 15 last year.
A win would also extend the Red’s current winning streak to five games and give the squad its ninth straight win over an American East opponent.