Last season, Cornell men’s lacrosse finished its worst consecutive seasons in 20 years. What followed was the resignation of former head coach Matt Kerwick and the promotion of current interim head coach Peter Milliman, who would take over for the 2018 season.
The team said last May that a nationwide search for a “full-time replacement” for Kerwick, who led the program for four years, would begin at the completion of the 2018 season. But sitting at 8-3 overall, 5-1 in the conference and No. 9 in the nation, it is looking less likely that a replacement for Milliman will be needed.
With a road win over No. 18 Lehigh (8-5, 5-2 Patriot) over the weekend, No. 9 Cornell claimed its sixth straight win and its second straight win against a top-20 team, having defeated Syracuse (7-4, 4-0 ACC) at home earlier in the week.
After a couple years of down years, the tradition of success has returned to East Hill.
“We are really excited that we are playing [Cornell’s brand of] lacrosse, and that means a lot to us,” Milliman said following his team’s victory over the Orange.
After being with the program for five years as the associate head coach and finding success so far this season, Milliman looks as if he is handling the new position with ease.
“I think I’ve felt comfortable since August,” he said. “This is a group I know well, it’s a program I know well and it’s a game I’ve been around my whole life. I think I am comfortable coaching the team.”
In the preseason polls, the team was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League and miss the Ivy Tournament for a third straight season. But as Milliman made clear back in February, Cornell was tired of underperforming.
“We want Cornell to be the No. 1 team in the Ivy League,” Milliman said. “We’re doing everything in our power to work towards that and bring the Ivy League championship back to East Hill.”
The Red is well on its way to achieving that goal, currently sitting second in the Ivy League. The team came up a couple goals short against No. 6 Yale — its only current blemish in the conference. But aside from that result, Cornell has handled its other Ivy League foes to this point and has a high chance of reaching the postseason.
Moreover, Milliman’s squad has been making noise on the national circuit, with three wins against nationally ranked foes thus far and a two-goal loss to then-No. 1 Albany in early March.
Cornell has gone from scoring 11.69 goals per game in 2017, to scoring 14.80 so far this season — best in the nation.
If Milliman was putting together another lackluster campaign, searching for a different full-time replacement would be expected. But with the evident improvement of the program this season, in addition to the transaction costs of changing leadership, the removal of the interim tag is all the more likely at this point in time.
But with a couple regular season games and presumably the postseason remaining, the job is not a matter of importance at the moment, according to Milliman.
“[Securing the job] is not even on my radar,” he said.
Under the leadership of Milliman, Cornell lacrosse is back in the spotlight of the Ivy League and the nation. Therefore, barring any disasters down the stretch, Milliman has built a strong resume as Cornell Athletics seeks its men’s lacrosse head coach.
Until then, the Red will look to return to the Ivy League and NCAA Tournaments for the first time since 2015.