Good things so often come in three’s: three’s a charm, the Three Stooges, Tic-Tac-Toe. But this Saturday in Providence, R.I., the men’s lacrosse team hopes for its own special three — three outright conference titles in the past five years. The No. 2/4 Red, riding high from its 10-7 upset victory over then-No. 1 Princeton last Saturday, will be fighting for the chance to take sole possession of the Ivy League championship by beating the No. 13/13 Bears, currently in second place in the Ancient Eight standings.
“For us it’s such a big game, we want to have an outright Ivy title,” said senior midfielder Max Seibald. “When we share the title we actually don’t get to keep the Ivy trophy for the entire year.”
Senior attackman John Glynn agrees. He said that the Red has really emphasized bringing the entire title back home to Ithaca.
“We don’t want to share the title,” he said. The team shared the title with the Bears last season, something that Glynn characterized as “the epitome of not finishing what we started.”[img_assist|nid=37186|title=Max plays lax|desc=The Red will look to maintain its perfect Ivy record tomorrow.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Cornell (9-2, 5-0 Ivy) is the sole undefeated team left in the Ivies and its game against Brown (11-2, 3-1) is the last chance for any team to spoil the Red’s perfect record. The victory would also stamp the team’s ticket for the NCAA tournament — the seventh Nationals appearance for the Red in the nine years since the taking on of head coach Jeff Tambroni.
Having that undefeated record is a strong source of motivation for the Red’s leadership.
“We want to consider ourselves part of the few Ivy teams that have gone 6-0. It’s only happened 15 times for Cornell [since 1956]. It’s really something that’s important to us. It was a goal we set out to do at the beginning of the season.”
The Bears are coasting on the crest of their own impressive season, reaching 11 wins for only the second time in 15 years. Last year, the then No.8 Red rallied from a 4-2 deficit in the second quarter to hit back the No.17/15 Bears hard with a 5-0 scoring run, including two scores from Seibald. That 11-7 victory clinched the Red its share of the 2008 Ivy title. Junior attackman Ryan Hurley led the Red the four goals and one assists, while Glynn added another goal and two more assists. Senior attacker Rocco Romero also contributed a pair of assist in the win.
But unlike last year, while the Red can lose this match and still qualify for the NCAAs, a loss for the Bears means the end of the season. This will doubtless be a motivational facto for the Browns. This weekend is also alumni weekend and the team’s senior day. Seibald said he’s heard the game is already sold out.
“We expect this to be [Brown’s] best game of the year so far,” Seibald said. “They have every reason to be excited. It’s going to be a great day, a great atmosphere. It’s an opportunity for them to make a statement.”
The Bears have a choice of fields, but Seibald said they usually stage matches against the Red on their grass field.
“They put us on the grass field,” Seibald said. “The grass field does throw in a little curveball for us. It is not as nicely kept [as other fields]. It makes for a sloppy but fun game, slows the pace a little bit.”
In order to prepare for the different field surface, the team has been practicing on the grass alumni fields by Bartels. Of particular importance will be the way the Red reacts at the face-off X, as well as with ground balls in general.
Glynn, the Red’s go-to man at the X, says the grass hasn’t been keeping him up at night, however.
“I played on grass all through high school so I’m pretty used to it,” Glynn said.
The Bears will be led by a strong offensive duo in sophomore Andrew Feinberg and senior Kyle Hollingsworth. Feinberg ranks sixth in the country with 2.69 goals per game, and seventh in the country in points. Hollingsworth ranks ninth in the country in assists per game with 1.85.
The Red will doubtless answer with a star-heavy offensive line up of its own. Glynn has already earned Ivy League Player of the Week twice this year. Both Glynn and Seibald have been nominated for the Tewaaraton Trophy — Seibald is a three-time nominee. Overall, the Red ranks in the top-10 in the nation in eight offensive categories. Cornell is ranked first in scoring, points per game and assists per game. The Red are third in man-up offense, fourth in scoring margin, sixth in ground balls per game as well as win percentage, with a seventh-place ranking in face-off win percentage.
The Red’s offense will face one of its most serious challenges in the Bears’ star goalie Jordan Burke. Burke is ranked fifth in the nation with a .625 save percentage and seventh overall with a 7.39 goals-against average.
Glynn said the Red considers Burke to be the heart and soul of Brown’s defense.
“We’ve spent a lot of time [watching film] on him,” Glynn said. We just have to keep shooting, try to get the best shot available. If he gets hot we just have to stay the course.”
“We just have to staying with our team system,” Seibald said. “It’s just sticking to the game plan, working as a team. No one matchup overrides the team.”