Some quick notes from last week:
- The Syracuse attack benefited from a lot of late and missed slides courtesy of the Siena defense. The attack will probably have to work harder than that this week.
- Keep an eye on the center of the offensive zone box, Siena left the center of the box open over and over giving up several unguarded SU goals from that spot.
- Kevin Rice used the swim move multiple times on Saturday. This could be turning into his signature move, but if he seems to be one-on-one guarded and moving away from the net, watch for it.
- Hakeem Lecky seems to be more positionally aware this year and his speed is a great asset. Coming down the lane Lecky is dangerous, he can add speed and get a step in front of his defender; he burned several Siena players on just the first step.
- The LSMs have to stop taking shots. Maybe they don't remember last year, but possessions are the most valuable thing in the sport of lacrosse.
- The defense needs to shape up and stop getting caught ball watching. The long-poles got back-doored on at least two goals last Saturday.
- Watch Ben Williams this week. Against Siena we were able to see how quick he clamps down. More so watch his positioning, he does a great job rotating onto the offensive side of midfield after the clamp and just before raking the ball. Also, it went a bit unnoticed but Williams took a couple serious shots and kept going. One point of concern is that when he wins a faceoff and keeps the ball, that first, quick pass looks problematic. Watch to see if the coaching staff has helped correct this with him because it was also a problem with Daddio.
Cornell did not open spring practice until February 1. Traditionally, the Cornell Big Red doesn't play its first game until about the fourth week into the month of February, yet Coach Matt Kerwick has picked the first game to be February 15. Even more surprising, that first game is against the Syracuse Orange. Theoretically, Cornell is at a huge disadvantage by only having approximately 14 days available since the start of practice and going against a team that has had over a month of practice, 4 scrimmages, one full game and a nice big, indoor, full field to practice on. It sure is an interesting choice but as to how it will affect the game, that remains to be seen.
The Orange lead the series at 65-35-1 since the inaugural 1920 matchup. The Big Red come into 2015 ranked at #8 on the national poll and #1 on the Ivy League Coaches Preseason Poll. Only four legitimate contenders exist for the Ivy League Championship: Cornell, the Harvard Crimson, the Penn Quakers, and the Princeton Tigers. Still, the league AQ will most likely go to Harvard or Cornell, so a win over Syracuse would go far if Cornell had to rely on an at-large bid.
While this weekend's date with the Orange looks like the toughest challenge of the regular season for the Big Red, Cornell will also take on non-conference opponents Virginia and the Albany Great Danes. The game with Albany is an interesting one due to it being played at Gerald J. Ford Stadium in Dallas, TX on the campus of Southern Methodist University. The game will be part of the Patriot Cup with all proceeds going to the HEADstrong Foundation and the Wounded Warrior Project.
Cornell's attack will add Maryland Terrapins transfer, and former high-school Under Armour All-American, Bradlee Lord. Lord will play between two stellar attackmen. First up is Matt Donovan, a player that lives behind the net. Donovan can dodge better than just about anyone in the college game, and has excellent off-ball movement. The senior from Morristown, NJ will creep up from behind the net and score backdoor on any team that forgets about him. The other attackman is senior Dan Lintner, a 47-goal scorer in 2014. The really impressive thing about Lintner is his accuracy, the Canadian sported a .713 shots on goal percentage and a .465 shot percentage last season. It's pretty unclear how Lord will fit in with these two, but Donovan and Lintner are dangerous enough that it could open things up for the transfer.
Cornell will need big production from its midfield. Syracuse is such a deep team that it will be very difficult to beat the Orange with just one midfield line. First-team Preseason All-American Connor Buczek will lead a strong first midfield line into 2015. As a first-team All-American and the Ivy League Player of the Year in 2014, Buczek put up 30 goals and 17 assists, and more recently was picked second overall in the 2015 Major League Lacrosse Draft. Check out this link and go to the 52 second mark to see one of the baddest hits of last year put on by Buczek. Junior John Edmonds put up 30 points in 2014 and will once again play midfield thanks to the addition of Bradlee Lord who will fill the third attack position. The third midfielder on that top line will be John Hogan. Hogan totaled 17 goals and 23 assists in 2014.
After losing Doug Tesoriero, Cornell's best faceoff man in the program's history, the faceoff game becomes a big question for this team. Sophomores Domenic Massimilian and Grant Mahler will be fighting for time at the X but Massimilian should be the go to for this year. Either way, if Ben Williams can continue where he left off against Siena, it shouldn't really matter.
Defensively, Jordan Stevens is the number one defenseman for the Big Red. I think it's fair to say that Kevin Rice will be seeing Stevens' number 35 on him all day. Remember, last week Rice had a bit of trouble with Siena's Pat Killeen in the first half. Cornell's second defender is sophomore Marshall Peters who started all 16 games last season and pulled in 37 groundballs. Peters played well as a freshman and could grow to be one of the next great defenders in division I.
In net is the 2014 Ivy League Rookie of the Year, Christian Knight. The Big Red will be relying heavily on Knight this year and for him to put up similar numbers as he did in his freshman campaign. Knight is beatable, but last year he made some unreal saves towards the backend of the season.