When: Saturday, 2:30 p.m.
Where: Shuart Stadium, Hempstead, N.Y.
Last meeting: April 18 — 10-7, Cornell
Cornell broke a halftime tie with a big third quarter and beat Hofstra on home turf, while Princeton ran out to an early lead behind the stellar play of senior midfielder Mark Kovler and topped UMass.
Storylines to watch
Ivy supremacy on the line
Though Cornell beat the Tigers earlier in the season, the teams split the Ivy League regular season championship following Brown’s upset of the Big Red. This game will break the tie. As if cementing both squads’ Ivy supremacy, seven out of the 10 first All-Ivy League team members come from either school (Cornell has four, Princeton three).
Freshman attackman Rob Pannell is having an outstanding season. Not only is he the team’s leading scorer. Just a few days after being named the Ivy Rookie of the Year, he led the Big Red against Hofstra with three goals and two assists. For Princeton, it’s defensive-minded freshman who are getting the job done — close dman Chad Weidmaier was a first-team All-Ivy selection and goalie Tyler Fiorito (59%) was a second-team selection.
Which midfield is going to have the better day?
Max Seibald and John Glynn have been integral to the Big Red’s offense, but their attack has shined in of late. Still, perhaps Princeton’s D double poles the senior middies. On the other end, Mark Kovler, Rich Sgalardi and Scott Mackenzie lit up UMass — Princeton’s first line midfield combined for nine out of the Tigers’ 10 goals. How does Cornell’s D react on Saturday?
Cornell and Princeton have met 69 times – but never in the NCAA tournament. The Big Red have beaten Princeton five of the last six in the series.
When I watch Cornell on tape this spring a few things standout. At the beginning of the year the Big Red were an up-tempo team who relied on midfield scoring. But losses to Virginia and Syracuse revealed that Cornell must play closer to the vest to protect their defense and goaltender. They’ve become more of a possession oriented team with freshman attackman Rob Pannell in charge. They dominated time of possession in the regular season game with Princeton and held the Tigers scoreless for 22 minutes 37 seconds in that contest.
It’s undeniable that under coach Jeff Tambroni, the Big Red play with a certain toughness and sense of urgency. They fly around and stubbornly show a confidence in their system at both ends of the field.
Max Seibald and John Glynn set the tone with their attitude and committment to groundballs (CU had an 30-11 edge v. Princeton on April 18).
Defender Matt Moyer may be a first team All-American. He’s fought through nagging knee injuries to have a stellar senior year. The Big Red don’t throw many checks on defense; instead they play the ball carrier well and hope to get 50% saves from goalie Jake Myers. Look for Cornell to short stick attackman Chris McBride and bump two poles up top to Mark Kovler and Rich Sgalardi, both of whom ravaged UMass last Sunday.
Glynn had face-off success (won 13 of 18) in the regular season win over Princeton, but his tactics will come under the scrutiny of Saturday’s officiating crew. Watch the Hofstra tape closely and you’ll see that Glynn’s gamesmanship may be over the line. Glynn has won 73% against Princeton in his career. He’s a pit bull. He’s been playing with a dislocated elbow for much of the 2009 season.
Seibald is the first solo captain at Cornell since 1966. Saturday he’ll have the opportunity to carry his team into Championship Weekend and stamp himself as the Tewaraaton frontrunner. Seibald is an ideal posterboy for the sport of lacrosse. He’s tough, competitive, all business, hard working, smart and lays it on the line every shift. He respects the Cornell jersey and the game.
Pannell was a late bloomer at Smithtown HS on Long Island. He originally committed to Quinnipiac, later de-committed and PG’ed at Deerfield Academy. In the fall alumni game former Cornell defenders Ryan McClay and Mitch Belisle knew immediatley that Pannell was legit. Princeton’s Chad Wiedmaier draws the assignment this week.
Ryan Hurley has the size and dodging ability to give Chris Peyser and Jeremy Hirsch fits. The Big question for Cornell on offense is complimentary scoring. Can they get production from Rocco Romero? Roy Lang? Chris Finn? George Calvert? Can their substitution shenanigans yield a 5 on 4 or 6 on 5 goal?
The Big Red are in a funk on E.M.O. – currently in an 0-12 streak. I expect to see some tweekage of their schemes this week.
Princeton has won nine of its last ten games. The six time NCAA champs are looking to return to Championship Weekend for the first time since 2004.
After a 7-6 record in 2008, coach Bill Tierney made some key adjustments. Princeton has shrunk their defensive playbook and given their offensive players the greenlight to attack the goal. The Tigers play music at practice on Fridays and appear to be a happy and hungry bunch. They have an ideal combination of senior leaders and youthful talent.
Kovler and Sgalardi are two of eight midfielders nationally with at least 40 points. Jack McBride will have to be a force dodging from the right handers spot on attack after a quiet game against UMass. His ability to draw a double will open lanes for Princeton mid-range shooters.
Poles Charlie Kolkin and freshman John Cunningham will cover Glynn and Seibald. Princeton has the nations best duo of shortys with Josh Lesko and Brendan Reilly, and the best remaining goalie of the eight quarterfinalists in Tyler Fiorito.
Neither team is built to come from behind. The pace setter holds a significant tactical advantage in what should be a low-scoring, defensive game.