Fresh off a 17-12 victory over rival Binghamton on Tuesday afternoon, the men’s lacrosse team is primed to face off against Army (2-2) on Saturday at 1 p.m. No. 3/7 Cornell (1-0) looks to start its season on strong footing by beating the highly-regarded Patriot League team that handed the Red one of its two regular season losses last year.“
“We’re really excited about this game,” said senior midfielder J.J. Gilbane. “They beat us, now we’re playing on our place. They play a tough brand of lacrosse, which we play as well. It’s going to be a battle and we look forward to getting out there and playing our hardest.”
While the Black Knights handed Cornell an 11-9 upset last season, senior attacker and captain Rob Pannell said that the Red is not out to avenge the loss.
“It is a new team this year and while most of this team played in that game last year, we will not be out to avenge the loss but it certainly will be in our heads,” he said. “It is a totally different Army team as well and we are going to need our best efforts to be successful on Saturday.”
Cornell will need to focus its efforts especially on defense come Saturday afternoon. Last year the Red was able to hold Binghamton to a scoreless first half; however, on Tuesday the Bearcats came within five points.
“Our defense and our team in general need a lot of practice. It’s still early for us,” Gilbane said. “We’ve only been practicing for a month. We still have a lot of work to do on the team.”
The Red’s roster is not the same as last season, Pannell said. Changes are still being made during these first few games as the players acclimate themselves to playing with new linemates.
“The defense is still coming into their own and still establishing leaders down at that end of the field,” Pannell said. “It was the first game and they are only going to improve each day from here on out and [junior defender] Jason Noble will be the guy heading those efforts.”
Despite the narrow margin of victory over Binghamton and the performance by the Red’s defense, a few lessons can be taken away from Tuesday’s contest, according to Gilbane.
“It’s always good to get a game under your belt, so you can look back and see what you can do better,” he said. “We made a few mistakes against Binghamton and we can look back and clean those up in preparation for Army.”
Paying attention to those mistakes and details will prove key for the Red, if it hopes to compete at the same high level of intensity that Army will bring to Schoellkopf Field. Practicing during the week will be the best preparation heading into this weekend’s contest, according to Pannell.
“I think the biggest lesson that we can take [from the game against Binghamton] is that we can not just show up and expect to win and that we have to earn those wins during the week of practice and translate that over to outplay during games,” Pannell said. “No game is an automatic win this year, and we have to develop confidence and get better each day in practice.”
Last year the Red outshot the Black Knights, 42-27, however success this weekend will not rely on the quantity of shots Cornell creates, but rather the quality of them, according to Gilbane. As Army leads the series against Cornell, 23-14, the Red will need to devise a solid plan of attack if it hopes to upset the formidable foe, Pannell said.
“Right now the game plan is to play our hardest and play a Cornell brand of lacrosse,” he said. “Our offense will have our opportunities and we certainly are going to have to capitalize better than we did against Binghamton, but right now we just want to play as hard as possible and the way we are capable of playing.”
A win against Army would extend the Red’s win streak on home turf to 11 games, and the team sitting 2-0 on the season for the fourth consecutive year and sixth time in the past seven seasons.