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Men's Lacrosse: Cornell Preview

+5 HS
beserkr29's picture
March 1, 2024 at 9:57pm

After an excruciating loss last game, the Buckeyes are on the road to Ithaca to take on the Big Red. And if you thought last weekend was bad...this one might be worse. Tomorrow's game is going to be incredibly tough.

Cornell has dominated Ohio State of late, usually cruising to easy wins. A 17-16 nailbiter loss a few years ago was the lone bright spot for Ohio State. This year, Cornell might have its best offense in a little while. And that spells trouble.

Cornell is led by Michael Long (#1), a superstar who has been a name to know ever since he signed for the Big Red. Long has 6 goals and 10 assists in 3 games, a scorching pace. Bolstering the offense are Willem Firth (#51) and CJ Kirst (#15).

Firth is a small, compact, skilled lefty with a heavy box background and lots of skill. In a tale as old as time, Firth was choosing between Ohio State and Cornell late in the cycle, only for the Ivy League to win out. It is... infuriating.

How good is Cornell on offense? Through 3 games, they're scoring on over 40% of their shots. That is WILD. Think even harder than hitting.400 in baseball. Especially in college. The Buckeyes have been playing great defense thanks to their elite new goalie, but this is going to be a tough ask.

On defense, Cornell is going to start Jayson Singer (#43), Jack Follows (#45), and Matt Dooley (#88). The Big Red have been surprisingly stingy thus far on defense. Teams are shooting just .272 against them, which is very respectable. Where Cornell struggles is allowing shots. They have no statistical difference in the number of shots taken vs shots allowed.

Teams get fewer shots on goal than Cornell's offense, but you need to suppress shots long term to be a title worthy team. That's not Cornell yet.

At goalie, Cornell replaces Chayse Ierlan with Wyatt Knust (#19). Knust has been average. With a save percentage of .500 exactly, Knust is doing enough to help the team win, while not exactly setting the world on fire. If there's a weak spot, this could be it. Ohio State will really need to keep its SOG % over 60% to keep this game close.

At faceoff, Cornell has struggled with Jack Cascadden's injury. Another opportunity for the Buckeyes here, if Burke can right the ship a little bit. Ohio State needs to win 60% pf faceoffs tomorrow. Just have to get them.

On special teams, Cornell really struggles to score. They're under 30% on the year, which is pretty bad. Om the flip side, the Big Red have limited opponents to converting 39% of their opportunities. That's not good either. Yet again, there's an opportunity for Ohio State to capitalize.

Ohio State, for all my complaints, has marginally improved its offense each game this season. The SOG % against Virginia was the best all year. It's just been a total slog in the aggregate watching this team try to score goals. If they can take a giant leap forward, this game could get interesting. For a while.

Realistically, Ohio State suffers too much from ball watching off ball, and freezing feet on ball. The SSDMs are especially guilty of freezing up, and lunging at dodgers.

If Caleb Fyock and Tommy Burke have great early starts, this game could go either way in the first half. But unless Ben Randall comes back to college, OSU is not good enough to stop Cornell's offense for long.

This game gets out of hand late, amd the Buckeyes come back to Columbus on an official losing streak.

Final prediction: Cornell 17, OSU 12.

Go Bucks!

Game is tomorrow at noon, on ESPN+.

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