May 1, 2012

Tuesday Extras: From LaxMagazine.com Writers

by LaxMagazine.com staff

Each week, LaxMagazine.com staff and writers at games across the country bring you extra opinion, analysis and news that goes beyond what's written in the game stories.

Cornell's Precarious Position, Pannell 'Not Close to 100 Percent'

Game Story: 'Princeton Cements Turnaround, Beats Big Red'

 
Cornell coach Ben DeLuca said "we're not waiting" on injured star Rob Pannell to return, and the Big Red can't. This weekend may be it for Cornell if it doesn't win the Ivy League tournament.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com 

Two weeks ago, the Cornell men's lacrosse team was ranked third and still talking of a national title shot in a wide-open year.

Now the Big Red doesn't even know if it will get in the NCAA tournament.

Cornell's 14-9 loss at Princeton on Saturday on the heels of a killer 10-9 loss at home to Brown has them on the outside looking in. They're the No. 2 seed for the Ivy League tournament, and they'll have to get through a hot No. 3 seed Yale on Friday for a chance at a rematch with Princeton or Brown on Sunday.

"I definitely think we have to win to get in," said Cornell head coach Ben DeLuca. "That's the way it's been for probably the last two games for us. We've been looking at it that way for a while now."

The Big Red has been hurt by their play at both ends of the field. It has given up too much on defense and its offense has not been producing at the rate it was earlier in the season.

"I don't think we played very intelligently," DeLuca said of the Princeton game. "Princeton shot the ball very well. Tyler Fiorito was terrific. He made some big saves for them. We hit a couple pipes that could have changed momentum. That was the difference when you look at the shooting percentages."

The one bright spot Saturday was freshman Matt Donovan, who scored four goals even as he was being hounded by All-America defender Chad Weidemeier.

"Everybody talks about how good Chad Weidemeier is, and he is," DeLuca said. "Matt Donovan ran by him for at least two goals [Saturday], one-on-one. I think that speaks volumes to the focus and intensity that Matt plays with and his ability. He's got a bright future with us."

DeLuca is hoping that future includes games to Memorial Day weekend, but those chances have taken a big hit lately. One thing that would give the Big Red a boost is if Rob Pannell can return. The 2011 National Player of the Year missed his 10th straight game since surgery on a broken foot. Cornell still doesn't know if he'll play again this season. He warmed up on the field lightly with the team, but remained in warm-up gear during the loss to Princeton.

"He's trying," DeLuca said. "We're not waiting. We're not hoping that he's coming back. If he's able to, great. If he's not, that's the way the ball bounced figuratively speaking.

"He's progressing, but he's still not close to 100 percent. He's still rehabbing."

If the Big Red can win two games this weekend, they'd buy Pannell another week to return for the NCAA tournament.

"We think we have a pretty good team with the guys that are able to compete," DeLuca said. "We just have to play smarter." -- JUSTIN FEIL

Syracuse's Last Chance (Really, This is It)

Game Story: 'Notre Dame Notches First-Ever Win Over Syracuse'

With an 8-6 loss to No. 3 Notre Dame on Saturday, No. 17 Syracuse capped an underwhelming regular season with a .500 record. But that only tells part of the story.

Four of the Orange's seven losses have been by two goals or less, including setbacks to Villanova, Duke and Georgetown before dropping the finale to the Irish. Orange coach John Desko said the close games are somewhat encouraging.

"I feel we can play with most of the teams we've played against this year," Desko said. "A lot of our losses have been by one or two goals. We feel good about what we're doing."

Now, Syracuse will need to win the Big East tournament to sneak into the NCAA tournament — which, despite a lackluster regular season, remains possible. In the loss to the Irish, Syracuse played a terrible first half that ultimately cost them. But when they began to win faceoffs and force turnovers in the fourth quarter, Syracuse was dangerous.

The Orange were just a few plays away from topping Notre Dame and claiming a huge top-10 victory. Now, they'll just have to do it a week later. – MATTHEW DeFRANKS


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