After its first loss of the season at Army, the men’s lacrosse team returned home to host Canisius Thursday on a dreary Ithaca late afternoon. The Red (3-1) played a stronger game than the last, allowing for a win over the Golden Griffins (0-4), 14-7.
While Canisius got on the scoreboard first, it was Cornell that dominated play in every quarter. The Red outshot the Golden Griffins, 39-20, picked up more ground balls and went neck-in-neck for face offs, winning exactly half. Junior midfielder Mitch McMichael, who won 7-of-14 face offs, also scored two goals for Cornell that came 22 seconds apart. Both of McMichael’s goals came on an extra-man opportunity — something that the Red excelled in during the game.
“Our specialty teams, our extra-man, did a great job of capitalizing for us and we played intelligent lacrosse and fortunately didn’t foul,” said head coach Ben DeLuca ’98.
Canisius fouled four times over the course of the game, and Cornell scored four goals during three of those penalties.
The Red also saw other players receiving multiple points in the 60 minutes of play. As always, junior co-captain and attackman Rob Pannell led the team, earning seven points through one goal and six assists. Junior midfielder Roy Lang and senior co-captain and midfielder Jack Dudley also scored two goals for the home team.
“[There was] some balanced scoring, some different guys getting the score sheet. I think we were happy with the way that the offense moved the ball, shared the ball and played unselfishly for the most part,” DeLuca said.
One last player who scored two goals for the Red was senior attackman Jesse Gamble. Gamble joined McMichael on the power-play goals by burying the other two balls that went in with an extra-man advantage. Gamble’s goals proved especially significant in that they were the second and third of his career, respectively, as he suffered a bad injury to his knee last year.
“It was great having him in there. He works so hard at practice and is such a great example of what a Cornell Lacrosse player is about for all our younger guys, as a senior, and to have him get this opportunity and have him in the man-up … you can always count on him to find a way to get open,” Pannell said.
While the offense was enjoying the presence of someone returning from injury, the defense was in the process of dealing with it. Senior defenseman Max Feely, who sustained an injury before the Army game, remained out during yesterday’s game and forced the remainder of the defensemen — namely sophomore Jason Noble — to take greater roles.
“With Max gone, now me and Mike [Bronzino] need to step up our vocal communications,” Noble, who ranks fifth in the nation in caused turnovers per game, said. “I’m not much of a vocal guy on the field … it’s been a challenge for me to open my mouth a bit but I’ve been working on it in every game.”
Noble also added that sophomore midfielder Kyle Ewanouski took a more defense-oriented position with Feely’s absence, doing a good job of covering the sides.
And of course, one of the key defending players during the game proved to be the net minder.
“A.J. [Fiore] helps out a lot, he’s a lot better than last year,” Noble added. “He’s always willing to help out and let us know what we’re supposed to be doing in the defensive end.”
Indeed, both sophomore Fiore and freshman Andrew West, who played the last 15 minutes in the cage, did a good job of stopping Canisius’ attempts on goal.
“A couple of key areas that we were pleased with as a coaching staff … our goaltending; we thought A.J. responded pretty well, made some big saves, and Andrew West coming in with the leave did a good job filling in for A.J. as well at the end of the game there,” DeLuca said.
Although yesterday’s matchup proved to be somewhat of an improvement from the 11-9 loss at Army, the Cornell squad still has a bit to work on as it looks toward the Face-Off Classic in Baltimore, Md., against No. 2 Virginia this weekend.
“We’re certainly going to be needing a better effort on the field than today,” Pannell said.
Facing-off against Virginia Saturday at 1:30 p.m., the Red has a chance of playing without three of its starters: Feely, sophomore attackman Steve Mock and senior midfielder David Lau. However, DeLuca said that he is comfortable with having younger players go onto the field in starting roles in lieu of these three players.
“Our guys are very resilient,” he said. “To a certain degree, that youth and that inexperience may hurt us at times, but it also provides some benefit with the guys that are just fearless. They just go out there and give it their all and they don’t know any better in terms of just giving it everything they’ve got … I think Jason and [Bronzino] are doing the best.”
Regardless of the lineup, Cornell intends to approach the Virginia game as a regular game. It will have focus on improving the little things that were sloppy in the Canisius and Army matchups, trying for better stick work and better defense that will allow the Red goalie to see and block better shots.