Aaron Snyder/Sun Staff Writer

Attacker Billy Coyle is one of 18 seniors who will be honored on Senior Day this Saturday.

April 27, 2023

PREVIEW: Men’s Lacrosse Takes on Princeton in a Battle for the Ivy Title

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After 12 hard fought games, No. 6 men’s lacrosse has an opportunity to clinch its second consecutive and 31st overall Ivy League title. Facing off against No. 20 Princeton this Saturday, April 29, the winner of this matchup will take the conference title outright, as well as the top seed in the Ivy tournament.

“This is where you want to be,” said head coach Connor Buczek ’15. “[At] the end of April, you want significant games and you earn those. So I’m proud of our guys to get to this point and to earn a very significant game at home for the last regular season game.”

This final regular season matchup will also be Senior Day for Cornell. The team sports a class of 18 seniors who navigated seasons spoiled by COVID-19 before going on a run to the national championship game last year. These seniors will be honored this weekend for careers which they hope will extend deep into May.

“It’s a great opportunity to honor guys who for four or five years have given their heart and soul into this thing,” Buczek said. “For all the teams that went through the pandemic and dealt with the ups and downs of it, because there were some significant downs –– not just losing games but losing out on opportunity –– it’s all the more important that we celebrate these student athletes for all that they’ve been through.”

The Red (10-2, 4-1 Ivy) is coming off a convincing 16-9 win over Brown. Cornell did not trail at any point in the final three quarters, and shut out the Bears in the last 20 minutes to win its third consecutive game.

“I thought the boys played well, we showed up,” Buczek said. “We had a good game plan and I thought the guys executed start to finish and in every facet. I think the guys played hard off the ground. I think we cleared the ball well despite a couple hiccups and I thought offensively and defensively we played cohesively.”

The Tigers (6-5, 4-1 Ivy) beat Harvard 17-11 last Saturday, April 22. Princeton rode a streak of eight unanswered goals spanning the first and second quarters, and has now won four of its last five games to put itself in prime position to win its first Ivy title since 2015.

The Cornell-Princeton rivalry has dominated Ivy League lacrosse since its inception, as the teams have combined for 57 conference titles. Princeton is the only Ivy team to have a winning record against the Red, leading the all-time series 42-40-2 through 84 contests.

The Red got the best of the Tigers in their game last year. After Cornell jumped out to a 12-5 lead at halftime, Princeton stormed back in the third quarter to trail by one. Nevertheless, key goals in the fourth quarter from attacker John Piatelli ’22 and senior attacker Michael Long were enough for the Red to come away with the 18-15 win.

As the final game of the season, this matchup has implications beyond the Ivy League. For the Red, a win would be another step in its case to be a top five seed in the NCAA tournament. Currently, Inside Lacrosse’s Bracketology has Cornell as the No. 7 seed.

For a Tigers team that is currently on the outside looking in, a win over the Red would send a strong message to the selection committee and could make the difference in receiving a bid. Princeton is currently ranked 16th in RPI.

Cornell’s contest is set to start at noon at Schoellkopf Field. It will be available on ESPN+.