Men’s lacrosse will play for a spot in the national championship game on Saturday afternoon when it takes on Rutgers in the Final Four. Cornell opened its tournament with wins over Ohio State and Delaware to advance to its first Final Four since 2013.
When, Where and How to Watch
Cornell and Rutgers will kick off Championship Weekend when they square off at 12 p.m. on Saturday at Rentschler Field in East Hartford, Connecticut. The game will be televised on ESPN2. You can follow along with The Sun’s live updates on our Twitter.
The fifth-ranked Scarlet Knights advanced to their first Final Four in program history with wins over Harvard and Penn. Saturday will be the first time Cornell and Rutgers have met since 1980.
The Scarlet Knights will hope that their strong defense and goaltending will stimmy Cornell’s top two scoring threats in fifth-year attacker John Piatelli and sophomore attacker CJ Kirst.
“They’re a very strong team offensively, defensively and in the middle of the field,” Piatelli said. “They’re a very athletic group, so we’ve just got to match that athleticism and intensity that they’re going to bring.”
Rutgers spreads the ball around on the offensive end, with five players with at least 40 points on the season.
In order to add to his 50 goals on the season, Ivy League Rookie of the Year will have to beat a familiar foe — his brother Collin, who is the star goaltender for the Scarlet Knights. The brothers are excited for the opportunity to face off on college lacrosse’s biggest stage.
Buzcek: “We have what it takes”
Head coach Connor Buzcek ’15 is feeling confident about his team heading into the weekend.
“There’s something in the DNA of this team that believes, that truly believes, that we have what it takes,” Buzcek said.
The 2022 Ivy League Coach of the Year said he thinks his team is playing its best lacrosse and is peaking at the right time.
“The confidence associated with playing your best lacrosse is imperative to winning on the biggest stage,” Buzcek said. “That type of confidence and that type of progression sets you up to do pretty incredible things.”
The team’s 19 seniors will miss their graduation ceremonies to compete in the Final Four. They’re ok with that.
“I didn’t order a cap and gown,” Piatelli said.
The “It’s Great to Be Here” Mentality
Less than a week after the passing of legendary head coach Richie Moran, the Red snapped a two game skid with a critical win over Princeton to clinch a share of the Ivy League title and set up an at-large bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We try to take on the Coach Moran mentality, the ‘It’s great to be here’ mentality,” Buzcek said. “Just enjoy the moments together, enjoy the opportunity to play, to practice, to compete … We’re going to take that same mentality into this weekend.”
What’s at Stake?
It’s win or go home.
With a win, Cornell would advance to its eighth national championship game and first since 2009, where it would face the winner of Princeton and Maryland on Monday.