February 7, 2011

NCAA Preview: No. 10 Cornell (Men)

by Brian Delaney | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

The February issue of Lacrosse Magazine features an extensive NCAA lacrosse preview, from Division I through Division III, plus in-depth features on the top-ranked Syracuse men and the snake-bitten Cal women. Lacrosse Magazine Online (laxmagazine.com) examines the key players, strengths, weaknesses, best- and worst-case scenarios, sleepers, what's new, what's not and rival coaches' takes on each of the top 10-ranked teams in Division I men's and women's lacrosse.

MEN: 10 COR | 9 HOF | 8 DUKE | 7 UND | 6 PTON | 5 MD | 4 SB | 3 UNC | 2 UVA | 1 CUSE
WOMEN: 10 UND | 9 JMU | 8 PENN | 7 UVA | 6 GTOWN | 5 CUSE | 4 DUKE | 3 UNC | 2 NW | 1 MD

NO. 10 CORNELL

Cornell junior attackman Rob Pannell was called "the best attackman in the country" by one rival coach.

© Lee Weissman

Head Coach: Ben DeLuca
Conference: Ivy League
2010 Records: 12-6, 4-2
2011 Opener: Thursday, Feb. 26 vs. Hobart | Schedule

KEY PLAYERS

A Rob Pannell (Jr.)
Returning first-team All-American and Ivy League Player of the Year had 29 goals and 51 assists as a sophomore, and was stellar on the ride.

D Max Feely (Sr.)
Honorable mention All-American at close defense in 2010; a three-year starter. Leadership is important for a unit expected to start at least three, if not more, sophomores.

G AJ Fiore (Soph.)
Hometown product was solid as a freshman, but expectations are higher. “Last year we concentrated on him making saves and keeping the ball out of the net. This year we’re developing his personality a little more, as a vocal leader of our defense,” DeLuca said.

M Roy Lang (Jr.)
Has size (6-3) and speed to be impact player, but striving for consistency. Scored 16 goals as a sophomore mostly playing off Pannell’s creativity.

STRENGTHS

• Will outwork opponents on a regular basis, translating into great production between the 30s
Bountiful game experience returns in all three phases, anchored by Pannell at attack

WEAKNESSES

• Inexperience and turnover at the faceoff X
• Inconsistent offensive creation from midfield lines

BEST CASE

Cornell's midfield develops offensively, its young defensive corps plays up to its vast potential, Pannell has another All-America season and the Big Red challenge for a national championship.

WORST CASE

Cornell struggles to replace Austin Boykin's production at the faceoff X, and more athletic opponents exploit the extra possessions to keep the ball out of Pannell's stick, wear the Big Red's defense down and win big games.

SLEEPER

D Mike Bronzino (Soph.)
Bronzino missed the bulk of 2010 with a wrist injury, but returned late and played well enough to force DeLuca to shake up his personnel. Bronzino is a difference-maker at close defense, with All-America potential.

RIVAL COACH'S TAKES

"Coaching change, but have continuity with Ben. Lost the Hurley kid, but still have the best attackman in the country."

"I'm sure Ben [DeLuca] will want to keep some things the same since he's had success there as an assistant, but he'll also want to sprinkle in some of his own flavor. So they'll be different, not sure how. Rob Pannell's a great player to start with."

WHAT'S NEW?

Shortstick defensive midfielders. A group including freshman Joe Paoletta, senior Shane O'Neill and sophomore Tom Trasolini will be counted on to produce.

WHAT'S NOT?

Expectations. With three trips to the final four over four seasons and a roster loaded with returning players, Cornell expects to compete for a national title

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The Ivy League saw its first four-way tie for first place in league history last season, with Cornell, Princeton, Yale and Brown each finishing at 4-2. For Cornell, it was an eighth straight regular-season title, the longest such streak in Division I.


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