March 11, 2011

NCAA Division I Men's Lacrosse Notebook: Cornell Likely Missing Three Starters Saturday

by Gary Lambrecht |

Cornell defenseman Max Feely has missed most of the last two games with an undisclosed injury and will likely miss Saturday's game against second-ranked Virginia.

© Greg Wall

Cornell keeps getting younger, and not in a way that makes life easier for the Big Red men's lacrosse team or its first-year head coach, Ben DeLuca.

No. 14 Cornell, which faces second-ranked Virginia at M&T Bank Stadium in Saturday's Face-Off Classic tripleheader, will confront easily its toughest test of the season. And for the third straight game, the Big Red (4-1) likely will be without three starters -- senior defenseman Max Feely, senior midfielder David Lau and sophomore attackman Steve Mock.

"When the injury bug comes, it's not very kind," said DeLuca, who would not disclose the nature of the injuries, and added that Feely, Lau and Mock are expected back in the lineup eventually. "We are leaning hard on sophomore anchors right now."

It's more like a parade of underclassmen patching things together in Ithaca. Sophomore Kyle Ewanouski has replaced Feely, with some help from freshman Tim Freshour. Freshman midfielder Mike O'Neill is filling in for Lau. In addition, sophomore defensemen Mike Bronzino (18 ground balls) and Jason Noble (25 ground balls), sophomore long-stick midfielder Thomas Keith and sophomore goalie A.J. Fiore have been mainstays for Cornell.

The injury bug first bit the Big Red about five weeks ago, when senior defenseman Peter Mumford, a transfer from Onondaga Community College projected to start in 2011, tore his ACL. Mumford has withdrawn from the team.

With remarkable junior attackman Rob Pannell (nine goals, 15 assists) supplying the glue on offense as arguably the nation's premier feeder, the Big Red will be hard-pressed to keep an explosive Virginia offense in check. If Cornell wants to put itself in position to pull off an upset, it most likely needs Fiore to play his best game of the year.

Through four games, Fiore has allowed an average of only 7.2 goals, but he has saved just 46.7 percent of the shots he has seen. In its 11-7 loss at Army on March 5, the Cornell defense caved at times, especially Fiore, who recorded only four saves. Army scored on 11 of its first 13 shots.

"[Virginia] is going to be a very big challenge for us," DeLuca said. "Our defense has to repair some things. It definitely has to be on point. We want to show our goalie the types of shots he needs to save. This isn't just on A.J. This is something we look at collectively on defense."

Petro wants more production from midfield

No. 17 Johns Hopkins spanked another inferior opponent on Wednesday, when the Blue Jays drilled visiting Manhattan, 10-3.

But all is far from well at Homewood. Hopkins (4-1) has claimed easy victories over Siena, Delaware and Manhattan, and it shook off some offensive doldrums in its season opener before pulling away from Towson to a 10-6 victory.

Last week's 8-3 loss to visiting Princeton, which held the Blue Jays to their lowest scoring output in 45 years, shined a bright light on the trouble in the Hopkins offense.

The starting midfield of sophomores John Greeley and John Ranagan and freshman Rob Guida could not do a thing against Princeton's matchup zone defense, which smothered the potent attack of Kyle Wharton, Chris Boland and Zach Palmer.

Greeley, Ranagan and Guida did not manage a point against Princeton. Towson used a zone alignment that also held Hopkins' first midfield to a combined two assists.

"We never really attacked from the midfield against Princeton, and I'm still not sure why," said Hopkins coach Dave Pietramala, who was steamed at how the Tigers dominated the ground ball battle and controlled the action between the boxes against Hopkins. "We still have a lot of growing up to do, but we don't have time to use youth as an excuse."

Hopkins, which takes on UMBC on Saturday at M&T Bank Stadium, needs to generate more offensive production out of its midfield soon. Next weekend, the Blue Jays' schedule ramps up at Syracuse, and the gauntlet begins, as Hopkins takes on the likes of Virginia, Maryland and North Carolina in the coming weeks.

UVA man-up near automatic

Here's some free advice to Cornell, or anybody else left on Virginia's schedule.

Don't foul.

It's hard enough to contain the Cavaliers (5-1) in a six-on-six game, what with scoring weapons such as attackmen Steele Stanwick (27 points) and Chris Bocklet (18 goals) and midfielder Shamel Bratton (13 goals) roaming the field.

Virginia has been especially deadly in extra-man situations. The Cavs are 14-for-20 (70 percent) with a man advantage.

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