Aaron Snyder/Sun Staff Writer

Junior attacker CJ Kirst was named the Ivy League Player of the Year today.

May 3, 2023

PREVIEW: Men’s Lacrosse Faces Yale in the Opening Round of the Ivy Tournament

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With the regular season concluding last Saturday, April 29 in the Red’s thrilling win over Princeton, No. 6 men’s lacrosse now sets its sights on the playoffs. First up is the Ivy Tournament, starting this Friday, May 5 with an opening round matchup against No. 11 Yale. The Red enters as the top seed in the tournament, while the Bulldogs are the four seed.

Cornell (11-2, 5-1 Ivy) is coming off a 14-13 overtime win against Princeton which clinched the team’s 31st Ivy Title. After leading 6-1 early, the Red had its lead evaporate by halftime. Trailing at the end of the fourth quarter, Cornell got two goals from senior attacker Aiden Blake to win the game.

“We knew what was at stake and we’re not afraid to talk about those stakes,” said head coach Connor Buczek ’15. “Leading up to the weekend knowing what we were playing for, we knew we were going to get a good version of the Princeton Tigers, and with that, that there was an opportunity to do something that we haven’t done in a bit.”

The Red finishes the regular season inside the top ten in the nation in both scoring offense and scoring defense. This combination has Cornell with the fifth best scoring margin, winning matchups by an average of 4.69 goals per game.

Cornell also received recognition from the Ivy League today, which released its major awards and All-Ivy team. Buczek was named Coach of the Year for the second consecutive season, and junior attacker CJ Kirst was named Player of the Year after leading D1 lacrosse in goals and points. Kirst also won Ivy Player of the Week for his six point performance against the Tigers.

The Red had seven players receive All-Ivy nods. Kirst, senior goalkeeper Chayse Ierlan, senior defenseman Gavin Adler and junior midfielder Hugh Kelleher were all named first team All-Ivy. Junior defenseman Jack Follows was named to the second team, and freshman face-off specialist Jack Cascadden and senior attacker Billy Coyle were honorable mentions.

After a slow start to the year, Yale (8-4, 3-3 Ivy) has been on a tear. Since sitting at 3-4 midway through the season, the Bulldogs has won five straight games, including three conference matchups, to keep its postseason hopes alive. Its most recent victory came on Saturday, April 29 –– a 14-11 win over Harvard to lock up the four seed in the Ivy Tournament.

When these two squads faced off in the regular season, it was all Cornell. The Red jumped out to an 8-2 lead after the first quarter and never looked back, dominating in a 20-10 win.

“That week we were coming off that loss to Penn State that didn’t sit well with us,” Buczek said. “I think we had a very urgent team coming out that day, and even though it didn’t start our way, we had a group that was diligent and stayed after it.”  

A loss on Friday could likely knock Yale out of contention for the NCAA tournament. For the Red, a win would continue to cement its resume and help lock up a home game in the opening round of the national tournament.

“We know as you get into May, you’ve got to execute against the best teams in the country,” Buczek said. “We know we’re in for a battle here, so our hope is just to execute and to play well as a group, play clean as a group and hopefully put our best effort on display.”

Cornell’s contest is set to start at 6 p.m. in New York City. It will be available on ESPNU. The winner of Cornell-Yale will take on the winner of Penn-Princeton for the Ivy Postseason Title on Sunday, May 7 at noon.