It can take several months of practice and competition for a team to establish consistency and a true identity. With such a young group, the Cornell men’s lacrosse team knew that acclimating all of these new faces would take some time. But with time and patience comes progress, and the team is really starting to show signs of growth and self-consciousness, according to head coach Matt Kerwick.
“I think we know who we are now a little bit better,” Kerwick said. “It’s taken a little bit longer with a new group … [but] if we can have the effort and execution then we’re going to be in good shape.”
Coming off a dominant 15-goal win at Dartmouth this past Saturday, the Red (4-4, 1-2 Ivy) now turn its attention to Harvard (5-5, 1-1 Ivy). The Crimson will come to Schoellkopf on Saturday.
The Red has shown its resiliency in being able to bounce back from tough losses with solid victories, yet the men have yet to string a pair of quality victories together. Following the big win over the Green, junior defenseman Marshall Peters stressed that keeping focus would be a critical part to carrying over the success from last week to this Saturday.
“Obviously we have to keep the train rolling,” Peters said. “I think the message is still focus on those details, focus on that preparation, encouraging guys to go out there on their own and do their own work and that’s kind have been the message all week.”
Freshman attackman Ryan Bray, who had a pair of goals and assists in the Dartmouth game, emphasized the importance of this game for maintaining positive momentum.
“This is a really big one for us,” he said. “For us to make a run at the Ivy League championship, … we need to get a good win here.”
He also said “staying within itself” will be most important for the Red this week.
“It’s really not about Harvard,” Bray said. “It’s about us. How we work this week in practice and how we go into the game mentally [is] what’s it’s mostly about.”
Staying within oneself is an important theme that Kerwick has addressed throughout the year. He strongly encourages leadership from his senior class and camaraderie between all class years on the team.
“We say to these guys all the time ‘It’s your team, it’s not our team,’” Kerwick said. “It’s up to you guys to bring the intensity and the effort, and if you do that and we put the practices together that we think our necessary to win those two things combined are going to give the outcome we want.”
Bray said he greatly appreciates the leadership from the older guys.
“It’s been a great experience so far being able to get out there with a bunch of the older guys,” he said. “It’s been an honor to be able to get out there.”
And their leadership has certainly paid off. With the third most points on the team, Bray has acclimated very nicely to collegiate lacrosse.
Despite the team’s progress, though, the next couple of weeks are going to be the Red’s toughest yet, according to Kerwick.
“Coming off of a good one against Dartmouth, we have to keep that edge and keep that intensity level up if we’re going to have a chance in these next two,” Kerwick said looking forward at the Harvard game which is followed up closely with a clash against upstate rival, Syracuse on Tuesday. “We’re playing against very good opponents.”
Harvard beat the Red the past two seasons and has already beaten ranked opponents Duke and Villanova this season.
“They’re talented, they’re big, they’re fast, so we’re going to have to play our best,” Kerwick said. “I’m very impressed with their team.”
Play begins this Saturday at 3 p.m. on Schoellkopf.