Cornell and Princeton are currently tied for the most all-time Ivy League lacrosse titles with 26 apiece. A Red victory over Brown this weekend would change that.
The No. 7 laxers will travel to Stevenson Field in Providence, RI with the chance to clinch home field advantage for the 2013 Ivy League Tournament. With a win in the 3 p.m. matchup on Saturday, the Red (10-2, 4-0 Ivy League) would capture sole possession of the conference regular season crown and cement Schoellkopf Field as the host site for postseason play.
“It’d mean a lot to us,” said senior attackman Rob Pannell. “[Hosting the Ivy League Tournament would give] the seniors another home game, which [was] one of our goals to start the season.”
The Red will first have to get past the Bears (6-5, 1-3), who have defeated Cornell in three of the past five meetings — including a 10-9 upset last season.
“I think it will be a good test for us,” said sophomore midfielder Connor Buczek. “They’ve been pretty impressive in the league so far and they’re obviously fighting for their playoff lives right now, so we’ve got a lot on the line in this one.”
It has been over a week since the Red played its last game — a 13-12 loss to No. 5 Syracuse — so the Red has had ample time to prepare for this important Ivy matchup.
“It’s been a long week-and-a-half since we played Syracuse. … So we’ve had some time to relax, but [we’ve] also been getting after it this week in practice and we’re excited to get out there against another opponent,” Pannell said. “Ivy League games are always exciting, and Brown’s a very talented team and always finds a way to give us a tough game. It’s an important game for us to get headed in the right direction.”
The Red outscored opponents 62-31 en route to four consecutive victories before falling to No. 5 Syracuse (9-3, 3-1 Big East) on a last minute goal on April 10th. Both of Cornell’s losses this season have come by just one goal, and the team is looking to iron out trouble spots against Brown.
“[H]aving a tough loss like Syracuse keeps you working hard every single day because, you know, we can be our biggest proponent, but we can also be our biggest enemy,” Buczek said. “And we thought in that game we just made too many mistakes, so we’re working hard every single day to correct that.”
Avoiding mistakes will be key against a Brown squad that relies on disrupting its opponent and taking control of the pace of play. The Bears specialize in the aggressive 10-man ride, which is typically used to pressure the clearing team in desperation situations.“This week in practice we have been stressing the clearing because Brown does a 10-man ride,” Pannell said. “But I think the biggest thing [head coach Ben] DeLuca has been focusing on in our practice has been our defense. … The slightest adjustments can go a long way.”The Red’s defense will have to contend with Brown’s balanced offensive attack led by freshman Henry Blynn, who has 24 goals and eight assists on the season. Junior Sam Hurster is a close second with 19 goals and six assists.“[Brown’s] got a lot of great shooters,” Buczek said. “Defensively, they’ve got some very athletic guys. … One of the biggest things we’ve been stressing on the offensive end is to avoid silly turnovers and make sure unforced errors are kept to a minimum. If we can do this … everything will work itself out.”One of the Red’s biggest x-factors this week will be the play of Buczek. On a team led primarily by seniors, the sophomore from Cincinnati is in the midst of a breakout year, including a four-goal performance against Syracuse.“Connor’s been great,” Pannell said. “He made the transition from attack to midfield, and has really been a physical presence at midfield and done a great job. He’s probably the best outside shooter on the team … and allows us to stretch teams’ defenses.”Buczek attributed much of his improvement this season to the coaching staff’s dedication to working with him.“This year I’ve been working hard with the coaches, with the guys around me and everybody’s really helped me out a lot — to help me grow to the point where I am now,” Buczek said. “I have to give all the thanks to my teammates and coaches for that.”While Buczek and Pannell look to keep the Brown defense on its heels, the Red is feeling confident and — with last season’s disappointing finish in mind — focused on finishing strong.“We feel great,” Pannell said. “We’re very excited to have this opportunity to continue our season and it starts at Brown, so we’re going to take it one game at a time. Every game is as important as the next. … Our team morale is great, and everybody’s on the same page. … I certainly like where our team’s at a lot more this year than where we’ve been in years past.”
Original Author: Chris Mills