Cornell men's lacrosse opens next Sunday against Hobart and here's how they look according to Inside Lacrosse Magazine.
Cornell men’s lacrosse opened their pre-season with what the team considered a strong showing and a probable victory, although an official score was not kept, in a scrimmage against Albany this past Sunday. Cornell is ranked 6th in Nike’s preseason poll, 7th by inside Lacrosse Magazine, and 8th in the coach’s poll. Cornell welcomes back 36 letter-winners this season, most notably Rob Pannell, a fifth year senior and the 2011 USILA National Player of the year who missed most of the 2012 season after breaking his foot in game 2 against Army. Pannell worked out his academic plan so that the Ivy League office granted him a 5th year of eligibility, as he would not accept being sidelined his senior year. He is apparently fully healthy now and competed with the U.S. National Team in D.C in the fall. Some question whether he will be able to make it through a long, tiring season while coming off his injury and taking a year off, but the coaches claim he is such a workout fiend that he should have no problem staying healthy. Pannell ranks second all-time for Cornell in assists, and third in total points with 252. He is joined on attack by sophomore Matt Donavan who was last year’s Ivy Rookie of the year and scored an impressive 18 goals in his freshman season. Rounding out the offensive unit is senior Steve Mock, who led the team last year with 23 goals and was fifth in the ivy league with 1.77 goals per game. Senior Connor English put up 20 goals last season and is expected to be another major offensive threat. Another Senior, Max Van Bourgondien was selected in the 6th round of the MLL draft. Van Bourgondien is a midfielder who saw a huge jump in playing time from his sophomore to junior season. He finished the year with 17 goals, making him yet another offensive threat by the big red.
One thing that all analysts agree on is that Cornell needs to improve the defense, and specifically goalkeeping, if they are to challenge for an Ivy title. In the 3 season ending losses last year, Cornell allowed 38 goals, the most they’ve allowed in a 3 game stretch since 1997. Junior Andrew West, whose brother Henry is a midfielder in the freshman class was the usual starter, but Ithaca native AJ Fiore, who is now a senior, also got significant playing time last season, especially toward the end when Coach DeLuca began to get frustrated with the defense. Hopefully the Big Red defense will improve this season, especially considering they are led by returning all-american senior Jason Noble who was the 10th pick overall in the 2013 MLL collegiate draft. Coach DeLuca feels that the Big Red have the personnel on defense, but they need to improve their consistency if they expect to lower the goals against.
The schedule looks favorable, they only play three teams in Inside Lacrosse’s preseason top 10; Virginia, Colgate, and Princeton. New rules come into effect this season in NCAA lacrosse, and Coach DeLuca thinks they will benefit his team. I won’t bore you with the specifics, but basically there are new face off and restart rules after goalie saves, and out-of-bounds calls that allow play to resume quicker, which DeLuca thinks will allow his offensively minded team to take advantage of slow or disorganized defenses.
The Big Red officially open their season February 24 home against Hobart so we'll find out soon if Pannell and Company can get the Big Red back to national prominence.
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