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Making Sense of the Lacrosse Season

It's been ten days since the lacrosse team suffered its tragic defeat to Duke in the national semifinals, and since then Cornellians far and wide have been trying to make sense of what still turned out to be an extremely rewarding season. And they all do it better than I can.

Matt Hintsa has a great time-lapse graph of scoring in the Duke game, and mediates:

I don't know the last time I screamed as loudly as I did (at the TV, for that matter) when senior Brian Clayton scored Cornell's eleventh goal with SEVENTEEN seconds remaining to tie the game this afternoon. Those screams of joy quickly changed to screams of agony as Duke got its twelfth goal past Cornell senior goalie Matt McMonagle only seconds later. The game was over, the season was over, but "America's team" had won. That's where the big problem arises.

According to today's ESPN2 commentators, I should be happy that Duke won, even if I am a Cornell student, because their men's lacrosse players overcame the greatest adversity and have grown back stronger after being "cut down" last season. Excuse me?...

Duke would have reason to be in the spotlight for overcoming adversity, if, say, its entire lacrosse team had contracted malaria while building houses in Africa (a place few on the team would dare venture, judging from the aforementioned evidence). Overcoming the adversity of something as obnoxious as the team's behavior and subsequent court case shouldn't land the team in the national spotlight. Their struggle was dishonorable from the get-go, whether you think the accused players were guilty of rape or not. The dropping of the charges was not an erasure of the fateful March party; only of the rape allegations associated with it.

And Sun Senior Editor Michael Mix wrote during his live-blog of the game:

Wow, what a game. Cornell has won close games all season, but today was Duke’s day. Zack Greer made an amazing play to catch and shoot, and he should be give credit. But the Red deserve a lot of credit for coming back and tying the game up after being down 10-3. It has been a great season, and it has been great covering this team. Jeff Tambroni has done a great job of building this team full of quality individuals and lacrosse players. They really have made my job a lot easier. It is a tough way to go out, but these players deserve all the accolades that they have gotten. And Cornell fans should feel confident that they have Tambroni at the helm, because he will continue to put good, hard-working teams on the field who will fight for all the ground balls and play with a lot of heart. It has been a great ride, and I hope that all Red fans enjoyed the game today and the entire season.

And the rabid fans over at eLynah are already salivating over the prospect of the 2008 season. Here's Hillel Hoffman:

In my opinion, goalie and attack are the biggest potential soft spots. McMonagle was a great stopper, but he was even better at the other little stuff, like initiating transition opportunities with quick, accurate outlet passes. I don't know that much about Myers, the transfer from Syracuse, but it wouldn't be fair to expect him be as complete a goalie as McMonagle was.

On attack, Cornell will open the 2008 season with an entirely new starting unit, with no proven finishers and no Pittard at the helm to control the pace and flow of the offense. That's scary. I expect big things from two players in that great junior class who haven't had an opportunity to shine yet: Finn and Pastirik. Finn looked super coming off the bench in 2007; he's a tough hombre who'll continue the recent tradition of hard-riding attackmen. Pastirik is small, but he can really shoot. It's insane to predict who'll win the long offseason fight for starting slots yet, but I like the idea of Finn, Pastirik, and 2008 sophomore Hurley. The latter, a lefty, really impressed me last offseason. He's assertive and explosive; whenever he touched the ball, good things seemed to happen. I suppose it's possible that Espey might move back to attack, his position in high school. Kyle Doctor seems to have some of the quarterback qualities of Pittard. And recruit David Lau is kicking butt this year for Cold Spring Harbor, even without injured All America (and Penn-bound) attackman Vecchio at his side. Lau might compete for time too.

The 2006 freshmen class, as anyone could have predicted, will become the heart of the 2008 team. Seibald, Moyer, Gradinger, and Romero all have a year or two as elite starters under their belts. Glynn has become their classmate because of his redshirt year in 2006. That's a great foundation for a minor rebuilding job. I don't think one should count on a return to the final four, and Princeton will be tough to beat for the Ivy crown with Hewit returning in goal (although the Tigers lose some great players too: Jungers, Sowanick, Trombino, etc.). But like Jeff Hopkins said, "In Tambroni We Trust." As long as Cornell is as hard-working and focused as recent Tambroni teams, the 2008 team has the potential to go far.

Matthew Nagowski | Posted on June 05, 2007 (#)

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