Adrian Boteanu | Sun Staff Photographer

The 50-50 balls were a reoccurring problem for Cornell in its third-straight loss to begin the season.

March 5, 2017

Crushing Home-Opener Loss to Albany Sends Men’s Lacrosse to First 0-3 Start Since 1997

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For a blow-by-blow recap of the loss to Albany, click here.

With the chance to come home and show its fans that its first two losses were flukes and not indicative how the season may unfold, the Cornell men’s lacrosse team failed to quell any doubts surrounding the storied program, dropping a tough 17-6 loss to Albany for the first 0-3 start in 20 years.

“We have some good pieces but we are not even close right now,” said head coach Matt Kerwick, who watched his team get outscored 9-1 by halftime. “Now we are three games into this thing and it’s the same song, and we have to figure this thing out. We need some guys to step up.”

Despite the eight-goal deficit at after 30 minutes of play, it looked like Cornell might have found its rhythm shortly into the second half. Albany scored two goals in less than 30 seconds to start things back up out of the locker room, but the Red soon went on a three-goal run in a span of 1:30.

At that pace, even the steepest of gaps had the potential to be closed, and a seemingly insurmountable hill to climb got slightly more gradual.

But then the Great Danes went on another five-goal run to put the game out of reach for the Red. It was the third run of five or more goals the team from Albany pieced together, and the fans who had to wait an extra day to watch Cornell lacrosse due to frigid, snowy weather were sent home packing, and still cold.

“They are a very capable offensive team, we knew that, and they outworked us on the ground and in our defensive half,” Kerwick said. “Every 50-50 ground ball they seemed to come out with. They are excellent in terms of their skills and ours have to get there.”

The first run from Albany — a six-goal streak to start the game off — highlights a repeated problem that Kerwick has noticed: starting incredibly slow. Cornell has mustered only eight first half goals all season, as opposed to 16 in the second half across three games.

Connor Fields had the third goal on the run, and Jakob Patterson added the last two. That duo accounted for five and four goals, respectively.

It was not until over 20 minutes had passed that Cornell found itself on the board, an unassisted tally by Colton Rupp for his first of the year.

Rupp — who led the team with 23 goals as a freshman last season — needed three games to find his first goal, scoring two on Sunday. He is happy to get them out of the way, but still expressed the general discontentment of the team’s current standing.

“Definitely nice to see the ball cross the line for the first time this year, I have been waiting,” he said. “It was nice to get a couple goals today but it’s nowhere where we need to be — for me personally and the team.”

Part of that improvement, undoubtedly, has to come on those 50-50 balls Kerwick alluded to. At halftime, Cornell trailed in the turnover margin 12-5, though that gap closed at the game’s end. Albany dominated at faceoffs, 17-9 — a crucial component to the game when it comes to building upon a lead, or in Cornell’s case Sunday, thwarting a run from an opponent. That did not come to light against Albany.

“Those are simple mistakes that we have to fix,” Kerwick said. “I wouldn’t say today we did anything well.”

Week in and week out, Kerwick has expressed his pleasure with how the team has reacted to the losses in practice. Yet that effort during practice has not translated to the field on game day. At least not yet.

“It’s only going to take place with a lot of effort and consistency in practice and guys sticking together and not feeling sympathetic for one another,” Kerwick said. “Of course there’s a lot of questions going on right now … You start 0-3 and it’s not anywhere where you want to be, but I wouldn’t say there’s panic.”

The team has another chance to get back in the win column and avoid a 0-4 start — also for the first time since 1997 — when it takes on UVA on the west coast this coming Saturday.