When Syracuse and Cornell face off on Sunday, it will mark one of the few times in NCAA lacrosse that two teams will have met 100 times. While Syracuse owns the series with 63 wins, 35 losses and one tie, it has been an extremely competitive match up over the past few seasons. This always is a great game, no matter who is having the better year. Just looking at the past few match ups, it is clear how close these teams are:
|2014||14-9||Syracuse||Randy Staats takes over with 5 G,4 A|
|2013||13-12||Syracuse||Cornell’s tying goal hit crossbar with :22 left (Connor English)|
|2012||12-6||Cornell||Cornell used a 9-3 second half to secure the win|
|2011||11-6||Cornell||Cornell has 5-1 first quarter, Rob Pannell has 3 G,3 A|
|2010||8-7||Syracuse||GWG with :01, Joel White clear to a Chris Daniello goal|
|2009||10-9 OT||Syracuse||NCAA Final, craziest play ever needed to tie game with :04 left|
|2009||15-10||Syracuse||Syracuse uses nine different scorers, in control the entire game.|
|2008||15-8||Syracuse||Seven points from Kenny Nims (2 G,5 A), six from Mike Leveille (5 G,1 A)|
|2007||16-15||Cornell||Max Seibald goes iso from the corner for GWG with :04 left|
|2006||12-11||Syracuse||Pat Perritt scores GWG with :48 left|
|2005||16-14||Cornell||Cornell scores two goals in last 2:30 to win|
|2004||12-10||Syracuse||Mikey Powell scores two of his three goals in the fourth quarter alone|
|2003||13-8||Syracuse||Four goals each from Sean Lindsay and Mikey Powell|
|2002||15-11||Cornell||Cornell rode six goals behind Sean Greenhalgh for the win|
|2001||14-10||Syracuse||SU lost three games all year by a total of three points, including NCAA Final, Cornell missed NCAA completely|
|2000||13-12||Cornell||Syracuse’s only loss all season|
In these 16 games since 2000, Syracuse has won 10 of them. The total goal differential for Syracuse across this grouping is just 13 points over the 16 games. This is a rivalry that transcends rankings and it rarely turns out the way anyone expects. The unusual thing this time around is that what is typically a weeknight game during the second week of April, is now a mid-February date. Cornell will be making the short bus trip up I-81 to play in the cozy confines of the Carrier Dome. As usual, they will probably bring a large group of fans, maybe a band, and definitely a plan to upset the Orange.
Matt Kerwick will enjoy his first game as the head coach of the Big Red after shedding the “interim” tag at the end of last season. Given their 9-0 start last season and the rivalry aspect of the game, I would not expect this Cornell team to come out too rusty. Even with just the Siena game to work off of for Syracuse scouting, Cornell knows their defense has its work cut out for it. Based on last year’s results, they will probably be paying extra close attention to Randy Staats. Unfortunately, too much extra attention to any one player will open up way too many opportunities for the rest of the offense. Cornell has the personnel to play Syracuse tough on that end of the field where they are backed up by reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year, goalie Christian Knight. Defenseman Jordan Stevens is also a preseason second team All-American. It will be interesting to see if they assign him to Kevin Rice or Randy Staats.
The Big Red on offense are led by first team All-American Connor Buczek at midfield and third teamer attackman Matt Donovan. Senior Dan Lintner is also very dangerous at attack. While these three captured most of the points and attention a year ago, their supporting cast saw considerable game time last season, and are very well balanced. They might not be as explosive as the Syracuse offense this year, but they have the potential to light up the scoreboard, as evidenced by only having four games last season where they scored in the single digits. It’s worth noting that those four games were also four of their five losses all season, so strong offensive production is their key to success.
The keys for Syracuse will be solidifying goalie play and working on their defensive cohesiveness. Last week, Bobby Wardwell did play all the way into the second half against Siena before Warren Hill came in midway through the third quarter. This game won’t have the same outcome as the Siena game did, so seeing when or even if Hill makes it in will be something to watch. The close defense was also in constant flux last week, so depending on how the match ups go, that may repeat itself. As the number of players change, communication can break down. When going against a team like Cornell who has experience playing together, this can be disastrous. The game will be won or lost on that end of the field for Syracuse.
Also, since you aren’t allowed to write about Syracuse without bringing up faceoffs anymore (it’s a rule somewhere, I’m sure), eyes will be on Ben Williams for the Orange to see if he can have a repeat performance of the show he put on last week. Cornell is replacing their top FOGO, so this is a very unknown part of their game.
The game is scheduled to start at 4 pm at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. If you are in the area, it will be broadcast on Time Warner Sports. That doesn’t matter though, because if you are in the TWS broadcast area and are following lacrosse enough to be reading this, you should be there. It will be worth the cold weather. If you are not in the area, it is set to be broadcast on WatchESPN. This game is definitely worth watching this weekend.