The 2013 season is six months away. Let's punch fate in the face and make wild assumptions about what could be the best 20 teams in the country next year.
Important People: Rob Pannell (A); Matt Donovan (A); Steve Mock (A); Connor English (A); Max Van Bourgondien (M); Mike Bronzino (D); Jason Noble (D)
Formerly Important People: Matt Rewkowski (Ass. Coach); Roy Lang (M); Chris Langton (M); JJ Gilbane (M)
Final 2012 Poll Positions: Media: 16; Coaches: 17
2012 Record: 9-4 (4-2, Ivy)
2012 Snapshot: Fresh!
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Cornell wasn't terrible last year defensively -- they did show 23rd in adjusted defensive efficiency -- and the entire close defense -- Noble, Bronzino, and Tom Freshour -- plus long-stick midfielder Thomas Keith return in 2013. However, the Big Red kind of fell apart toward the end of 2012, getting ripped to shreds against Yale and Princeton to end the season. This, in and of itself, creates some concern going into next year and it's exacerbated by this issue: The A.J. Fiore/Andrew West why-is-everything-falling-to-pieces situation is still kicking around. Neither West or Fiore was particularly strong in the cage in 2012, the former holding only a 51.6 save percentage while Fiore only mustered a 33.3 mark in the same metric. The uncertainty remains as to which keeper will get the nod to start the 2013 season (and with Brennan Donville lurking in the shadows, the picture as to which player will eventually man the pipes becomes murkier); that isn't a situation that's going to make Ben DeLuca buy a helium tank and have a super fun balloon party. If Cornell continues to get unsteady play from its goalies it may not be able to put together the kind of season that it is capable of considering the other assets the Red have all over the field.
A Thousand White Doves
The major defensive pieces return; all kind of offensive weapons dot the roster; and, most importantly, Rob Pannell -- an improvising explosive offensive device -- returns (after an administrative exclusion from fall ball practices). Like its neighbor to the east in Hamilton, Cornell has all the assets necessary to simply overwhelm their opponents with offense and turn games into a scoreboard telethon rather than a turf war (assuming that Doug Tesoriero can continue to give the Big Red possession after possession with his work at the dot). There is a little bit of worry about fashioning a midfield, but given the talent inherent in the attack -- and the attack's burgeoning variance in skill attributes -- Cornell has all the potential to blindside opposing defenses with look after look, wave after wave of brute offensive might. There are going to be very few teams that can roll out an offense like the Red should have in 2013, and that fact is going to keep them in the national conversation all season.