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Men’s Lacrosse: A Promising Season Lies Ahead

On February 20th, nearly two weeks away, the promising third chapter in the Cornell lacrosse novel with Matt Kerwick at the helm will begin to unfold, as former Big Red head coach Jeff Tambroni and the Penn State Nittany Lions travel to Ithaca for the 2016 regular season opener.

Following a winning season that bitterly concluded with a first round blowout in the playoffs at the hands of the Great Danes of Albany, led by the two-time reigning Tewaaraton trophy winner Lyle Thompson, Cornell looks to make a deeper run into the postseason this time around. With a tough schedule and the loss of both major offensive and defensive weapons, the Big Red has its work cut out for them along with some big chances to prove what kind of team a new season will feature.

Cornell is coming into 2016 after losing five starters, the most notable of which will be Connor Buczek and Matt Donovan. Buczek is a reigning Ivy League Player of the Year and First-Team All-American, while Donovan earned Ivy League Rookie of the Year and Honorable Mention All-American honors. Along with these two stars, fellow alumni attackman Dan Litner and midfielder John Hogan rounded out the top four offensive threats for the Big Red in 2015. In addition, a large dent was made to the Cornell defense with the loss of team MVP and defensive MVP Jordan Stevens. However, the 2016 Big Red is aware of the impact these casualties will have.

Senior attackman Bradlee Lord knows that “this season, we have a lot to prove. Having graduated so many great seniors, I think people have taken us off their radar.” Cornell has the opportunity to get back on the map of the lacrosse community in games against some of the predicted best teams in the country.

The Big Red is set to play a very difficult schedule in the spring, as, aside from nonconference matchups, the team will of course have to contend in the immensely competitive Ivy League. The conference has become much stronger and a true force to be reckoned with in the past decade, and this season’s competition will offer difficult challenges, especially in games against Yale and Harvard. However, Cornell will also get the opportunity to distinguish itself on a bigger stage in games against national powerhouses Albany, Virginia, and Syracuse. Both the Cavaliers and the Syracuse Orange are already positioned in the top ten in most early preseason rankings. Victories in either matchup at Schoellkopf Field would mean a great deal to the Big Red and its status in the NCAA.

Cornell will be looking to a lot of returners to replenish the scoring lost in last year’s graduating class. Lord seems to be one of the attackmen attempting to lead the charge, as he often played alongside Donovan and Litner in 2015. Senior John Edmonds, sophomore Jordan Dowiak, and classmate Kason Tarbell are coming off successful seasons at midfield and will definitely see significant playing time again this year. While Stevens was a huge loss on defense, the Big Red holds onto most of a unit that was ranked second in the Ivy League last spring. This defensive squad is led by junior Marshall Peters and includes sophomore Jake Pulver and senior Tony Britton. Behind them stands 2015 Honorable Mention All-Ivy Player and 2014 Ivy League Player of the Year, junior goalie Christian Knight. Knight is coming into his third year as the starting net minder for the Big Red and will help them immensely between the pipes.

As previously mentioned, Cornell needs to do some rebuilding this year, however, it seems like Coach Kerwick knew just where to start. “We have an exceptional class of freshmen and a lot of upperclassmen stepping up to fill some of those leadership roles we lost. If we continue becoming a cohesive team and work very hard, we have the potential for a very competitive season,” said Lord.

This new class consists of sixteen players, including five attackmen, seven midfielders, three defenders, and one goalie. The large freshman class includes many players that Kerwick expects to compete for playing time immediately, such as Colton Rupp, Jake McCulloch, Kiernan Coles, Ryan Bray and Tom Reilly.

Overall, the 2016 season possess great potential for the Big Red with plenty of new faces being taught by a core group of upperclassmen. Under the leadership of seniors Brennan Donville, John Edmonds, and Matt Schatner, Cornell looks to make a legitimate run at the Final Four.


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