Ranked No. 6 in both the Inside Lacrosse Preseason Media Poll and the USILA Coaches Preseason Poll, the men’s lacrosse team plays its first match of the season this weekend. Heading on the road to face Hobart in a late Sunday contest, the squad is eager for its first away game of the season. Usually the Red faces off against the Statesmen for its final regular season game, but this year there has been a little shakeup in the schedule, moving college lacrosse’s oldest rivalry to the season opener.
After an exciting season last year during which Cornell was 4.5 seconds away from a national championship, the Red is looking to rebuild its team after losing 16 seniors. With much new talent on the field, the team is looking to set up the building blocks for an even bigger season.
“I just think that a lot of people are looking at the holes that are left after we graduated some of the best players and leaders in the country last year, and that motivates us to work hard and improve as a team. We all want to step up and fill the void as seamlessly as possible,” Thomson said.
Because of the looming weather this weekend, the game will be held in a neutral site –– Syracuse’s Carrier Dome, which is the first time these two teams will face off in a non-biased field in their 131-year history.
“It’s to our advantage to not play there [Hobart] because they usually have a pretty rowdy crowd. That will definitely helps us but we are excited to come back to the Carrier Dome to play; especially for the younger guys, not only because it’s the first game of the season, but also playing in a setting like that will hopefully build their character,” said senior midfielder Austin Boykin.
Although Hobart retains the majority of its team from last season, the Red still holds the advantage in the all-time series, 80-47-4. In addition, Cornell has won nine of the last 10 meetings.
“They were very talented last year … they didn’t graduate many, so they have a lot of upperclassmen who are starters. A big factor for them is their goalie. He is known for being one of the top goalies in the country, so we are going to have to focus on shooting well,” Boykin said.
Throughout the preseason and in preparation for this week’s game, the Red has been working on strengthening and conditioning for the long season ahead. Along with strategizing on its offensive and defensive skills, Cornell has gone back to basics, working on ground ball and drop controls.
“With it being so early in the season, we have just been focusing on ourselves and the Cornell systems in general. We want to make sure the younger guys are getting into the loop and know our offense and defense,” Boykin said. “We are pretty confident that if we go up there and play our capability and do what we do best, we should come out on top.”
Using this game as an important starting block, the Red is hoping to learn a lot about itself during this game and see how the teams stands offensively and defensively against a well-squared opponent.
“We have been working extremely hard on improving our game and working on our systems. We have been concentrating on our own game so far this week because they are such a good team; if we don’t know what we want to do it won’t help us knowing what Hobart wants to do,” Thomson said.
Original Author: Jill Mendelsohn