Last year, the men’s lacrosse team headed to Cornell and suffered a crushing 12-4 loss.
So this Saturday at 1 p.m., when the Bulldogs (3-1, 1-0) face off against the Big Red (2-2) at Yale’s Soccer-Lacrosse Stadium, the team will looking for revenge.
“They pounded us last year,” head coach Mike Waldvogel said. “But we’re a different team this year, and we’re better prepared.”
The No. 20 Bulldogs are positioned to pull off the upset. The team is riding a three-game winning streak. In their 13-8 defeat of Pennsylvania last Saturday, the Bulldogs gave their best performance of the season by running a cohesive attack and a tight defense.
Ivy League player of the week, Brian Hunt ’02, added two goals and four assists against Pennsylvania and currently leads the Ivy League with 10 goals and 11 assists.
“We all played really well against Penn,” Hunt said. “Cornell has a bigger and better defense than Penn, so it will be a challenge.”
No. 19 Cornell heads into their Ivy League opener after dropping two one-point contests to No. 14 Penn State and No. 11 University of Maryland-Baltimore County.
First-year coach Jeff Tambroni leads the Big Red, who finished 10-4 and only lost once in the Ivy League last season.
With their strong regular season effort last year, Cornell earned an at-large NCAA tournament bid. The team graduated last year’s leading scorer, Sean Steinwald, but the rest of their key players returned.
Junior Scott Lee leads the team with 14 points. The Cornell offense also relies on significant contributions from midfielders. Junior Galen Beers has scored 11 goals, with a season-high four against Penn State.
“We match up well against their attackmen,” Waldvogel said. “But their six-man offense is much tougher to cover than those with one or two main players.”
While the Bulldogs are evenly matched with the Big Red, face-offs continue to be an area of concern for Waldvogel’s team.
After four games, the Elis have a 38-83 face-off record, with Ryan Capilupi ’04 and Tucker Foote ’02 sharing duties. Cornell’s Addison Sollog, currently 54-81 on face-offs, will provide tough competition for control of the ball.
“Foote and Capilupi will do well,” Waldvogel said. “But we’ll also have help from the wings. It has to be a team effort for us to beat these guys.”
Brian Corey ’01, Michael Rafalko ’02 and Noah Glass ’03 anchor Yale’s defense, which has shown steady improvement over the last four games. Waldvogel says he has not decided on the match-ups, but will wait to see Cornell’s line-up.
“We will have a more fluid defense,” Corey said. “Rather than being rigid, we can read their offense and respond to that.”
In the net, the teams are evenly matched, with both Cornell and Yale featuring top Ivy League goalies. Cornell’s Josh Cynar, a second team All-Ivy selection last season, boasts a .630 save percentage and 46 saves. Yale’s Eric Wenzel ’03 has a .632 save percentage and 55 saves.
Foote agreed with his coach, and also explained how the team will approach the game.
“They are a well-coached, well-disciplined team,” he said. “We’ll have to beat them at their own game.”
Hunt pointed to the Cornell game as possible turning point for the season.
“It’s important to win,” Hunt said. “It would be great momentum going into the Princeton game.”