#LMranks: No. 7 Cornell Big Red (Men)
|Rob Pannell will return to the
Big Red this spring after the Ivy League granted him another
semester of eligibility following a season-ending foot injury in
© Lee Weissman
Lacrosse Magazine is counting down its preseason rankings throughout the month of January exclusively on LaxMagazine.com.
Today continues a look at our NCAA Division I Top 20 rankings. For more, visit LaxMagazine.com/LMranks. Follow @LacrosseMag on Twitter and Tweet using the hashtag #LMranks. The countdown will resume Friday with profiles of the sixth-ranked teams in NCAA Division I men and women.
*Out of 5
A Rob Pannell (Sr.)
Pannell's talents, and the circumstances of a season-ending foot injury in 2012, are well known. He has one semester of eligibility remaining, so he did not practice with Cornell in the fall. Fellow attackmen Matt Donovan and Steve Mock are plenty familiar with Pannell's style. With the redshirt senior and former USILA Attackman of the Year, the Big Red once again has the game's best in crunch time.
G Andrew West (Jr.)
West missed the fall with an injury, senior A.J. Fiore has experience and sophomore Will Joyce enjoyed a strong fall. What the coaching staff needs is consistency — a 60 percent save percentage wouldn't hurt — for this team to maximize potential in 2013. The guess here is West wins the job, but he must improve on his .516 save percentage.
Coaching changes. Reassessing his staff's approach to the goaltending position, coach Ben DeLuca brought Fred Rothman aboard as a volunteer assistant to work specifically with the team's four goalies. "That was the number one targeted area as a coaching staff," DeLuca said. "We just needed to do a better job of coaching our goalies, of preparing our goalies." Also new to the staff is former Hobart and Jacksonville head coach Matt Kerwick, who replaced the departed Matt Rewkowski (Georgetown).
The attack unit, which should be dynamic. With Pannell injured last spring, Matt Donovan quarterbacked the 2012 offense and faced the opposing team's top defender. Steve Mock returns with changes to increase his career total of 84 goals. Pannell boasts 103 goals and 149 assists in his career. Off the bench wait Canadians Danny Lintner and Cody Bremner, and freshman Sean Doyle.
Record: 9-4 (4-2 Ivy)
In a Nutshell: Through 10 games in 2012, Cornell sat in terrific shape: a 9-1 record, the lone blemish a one-goal overtime loss against Virginia. They had wins over Yale, Denver and Syracuse. It was a team learning to play, and win, despite the loss of All-American attackman Rob Pannell to a season-ending foot injury in a Game 2 win against Army. But beginning with a 10-9 loss to Brown last April 21, the bottom fell out. Princeton throttled the Big Red in New Jersey, before Yale eliminated Cornell from NCAA contention in the Ivy League semifinals.
High Point: A 9-8 overtime win against Denver on March 20. A close second was a 12-6 win over Syracuse on April 10, but the win against the Pioneers at neutral-site Hofstra on Long Island was a confidence booster for a team still learning to play without Pannell. After giving great effort in a 9-8 overtime loss to Virginia a week after Pannell went down, the Big Red edged Yale, 8-7, before beating Denver. It was the second of six straight wins.
Low Point: It could be a 10-9 loss to Brown on April 21, which eventually doused Cornell's NCAA at-large changes, but the last loss of the season, a 14-10 defeat to Yale in the Ivy League tournament officially ended Cornell's season, and had to stick in the Big Red's minds all off-season long.
#LMranks MD1 Preseason Countdown
No. 20 Bryant
Best Case: Cornell regains the Ivy League crown and storms into the NCAA tournament with a back-to-normal Pannell and eyes on the final four with a stronger situation in goal.
Worst Case: Princeton and Yale continue their upward trends and keep the Big Red at bay for the Ivy title. March games, and potential losses, to Colgate, Virginia and Yale set Cornell back and it isn't able to overcome issues with Pannell returning to an offense that got used to Donovan being a centerpiece in his absence.
Coach Ben DeLuca's comments on...
A Matt Donovan (So.)
"He was just a star in terms of shouldering the load and doing a lot of what Rob had done for us over the last couple of years... I just think none of us expected him to be put in that position."
A/M Connor Buczek (So.)
"We thought Connor Buczek had a stellar fall. Stellar. At times we thought he was our best midfielder. He's not quite as fast as some of our signature midfielders in the past. But he provides us with a big, strong dodging presence in the midfield. He draws a lot of attention because of his size and his power."
The Cornell/Virginia series
"We've renewed... We're going to Charlottesville [this year] and they're coming back to Ithaca [in 2014]. Coach Starsia feels great about that game and so do we. For the forseeable future, we hope to keep that game going."
Rival Coaches Say
"Will Pannell return to his old form? I'm sure he will. If so, Cornell will have best player in the country. They will ride him... They will score goals, but will have to hold up against a tough Ivy League schedule... Pannell back along with a lot of offensive firepower on the attack and in the midfield which can go two very good lines deep; defense is always solid. Can they win faceoffs to get the offense the ball and can they finally find a goalie? A major Achilles' heel for them the past couple years... Still have to be considered the Ivy League favorites even after last year... They development of their young players last year has them poised for a great run. Again the coaching staff has to not over coach this group... Adding Pannell to an already dynamic offense and it can be a long year for many defenses. Only questions for Cornell come on the defensive end and in goal."