March 28, 2008

Moyer Adopts Role of Main Defender

Print More

It’s fall 2005, and the men’s lacrosse team has just finished practice. Head coach Jeff Tambroni is addressing his squad before sending them home for the day. Tambroni, ever the coach who loves hard-working, scrappy players, points out to his team how hard one freshman worked during that day’s practice. That freshman was Matt Moyer.
“There were certain days that we as a coaching staff would point him out as being the symbolic leader of our team,” Tambroni said. “He would still come back the next day and feel like he needed to do it all over again.”
To Moyer, it probably just seemed natural to come out and work hard every day. But one can tell from the way he talks about it that Tambroni will never forget the first impression that Moyer made on him.
“It’s just what Cornell instills in all of its players,” Moyer said. “It’s kind of a feeling you get when you come up on a recruiting visit. The coaches are very honest with you in that they want hard-working people.”
The one thing that felt natural to both Tambroni and Moyer, though, was the progression of Moyer from part-time defender, to main long-stick defender.
“I think this year it was the natural progression for him to come in and for other guys in the defensive end to look to him for advice and for his leadership ability on the field,” Tambroni said.
For Moyer, it’s the result of over six years of hard work as a long-stick defender, a position he took up his freshman year of high school.
“Obviously, growing up you want to be that guy that’s covering the main attackman,” he said.
But when the time came for Moyer to finally be that guy covering the opponent’s most potent offensive threat for the Red, he reported feeling no revelation.
“It really, to be honest, doesn’t feel any different,” he said. “It’s just another game plan. … Surprisingly it feels just the same as if you would be covering anyone on the field.”
What is different, though, is the style of play fans will see from the defensive ringleader compared to how he played last year. Mitch Belisle ’07, who held down the defense last year, could not be built more differently than Moyer. Stout and broad shouldered, Belisle was the enforcer while Moyer, tall and lanky, is the smooth operator.
“Mitch is much more of a physical defenseman who’s going to pound you for 60 minutes,” Tambroni said. “Matt is a bit more finesse with great athleticism. Both have great feet and athleticism and a great mind on the defensive end, which is what makes them very talented. Matty is probably much more dangerous in transition in terms of his athleticism and sense of transition.”
It was Moyer’s hard-working nature that allowed him to develop into a finesse defender, who can also muscle up and bully the bigger guys in the crease, not merely the small quick players dodging around the perimeter.
And it is also that dedicated attitude that should help Moyer jump his final hurdle — becoming a communicator.
“I was fortunate my first two years to sit back and let Mitch and Matty communicate with everyone and I just kind of went to places,” Moyer said before the season. “But now with the loss of two main communicators, that’s what I feel has been my biggest change and what I have to work on the most.”