This story is part of The Sun’s 2017 spring supplement. To view the rest of the supplement, click here.
A young and hungry Cornell Men’s Lacrosse team looked to revive the program a year after placing second to last in the Ivy League. With the addition of 14 freshman, the Red was looking for a fresh start coming off a disappointing 2016 season.
The season has not gone as planned, but no one who has followed the team through this season can doubt the work ethic, drive, or camaraderie of the Cornell team.
A hard work mentality has been a focus of head coach Matt Kerwick throughout the whole season.
“They keep getting better and believing in one another,” he said. “The team is working really hard and that is all I can ask for.”
Two newcomers — attackers Jeff Teat, a two-time Ivy League’s Rookie of the Week, and Connor Fletcher — have emerged as the offensive leaders for Cornell this season. Once they got accustomed to their respective playing styles, the partnership has blossomed into one of the best in all of college lacrosse.
The Teat-Fletcher combo has been showcased in every game of the season, helping them become the highest ever freshman duo after surpassing the the 78 points put up by Rob Pannell ’12 and Roy Lang ’12 in their first years. Not surprisingly, Teat and Fletcher are the Red’s top point leaders with 70 and 32, respectively.
“We are excited for where we are heading, we have a very young group in our locker room,” Kerwick said.
Teat, originally from Ontario, led The Hill Academy’s team and earned the team’s Lacrosse Award as a senior before coming to Cornell. In his final year at The Hill Academy, Teat was honored as an Under Armour All-America selection, a member of the Team Canada U19 squad and the top overall recruit in the class of 2020.
Fletcher, from Newtown, Pa., came to Cornell after helping the Princeton Day School secure two Prep B State Championships in his sophomore and senior years. He also served as the team’s captain on top of winning the team’s MVP award during his senior campaign.
But while their remarkable abilities have been on display week in and week out as of late, the offensive duo took time to get acquainted with their respective playing styles. In the first three games, Teat had only three points while Fletcher had seven.
“It took us a while to get going at the beginning of the season,” Teat said. “Once we found our spot with the rest of the guys, though, especially in the [Virginia] game, that’s when we started to feed off each other and feel comfortable together.”
Despite a 19-18 loss in overtime to Virginia, Teat tallied 11 points, the most scored by a Cornell lacrosse player since 1988. Fletcher, who assisted Teat on one of his goals, put up five points himself.
Teat and Fletcher never looked back after that as the pair continued to dominate the Red’s offensive fleet. In the eight games following the UVA matchup, the duo have put up a combined 78 points.
The duo has not only been great because both Teat and Fletcher can put the ball in the back of the net, but also because both players see their relationship as a partnership, relentlessly passing the ball and finding the highest percentage shot.
“The big thing for us is just our ability to share the ball,” Fletcher said. “We are able to feed off each other and finish easy shots.”
The 2017 campaign has been far from perfect, but there is an incredible amount to look forward to. Kerwick refuses to dwell on the past, and pushes his players to look towards the future. Undoubtedly, Teat and Fletcher will continue to be an influential piece of the Cornell men’s lacrosse team’s future.
“We have to keep moving forward and it’s about the next play, the next game, the next practice,” said Kerwick. “[Fletcher and Teat] have done a really good job embracing that. They show up everyday and work.”