Everyone assumed that Cornell would experience some growing pains in 2014 given the graduation of Rob Pannell. Nobody knew that his departure would be exacerbated by the dismissal of Ben DeLuca. This is a vitally important season for Cornell, and the team's agenda isn't going to make things easier for the Red.
Here are some schedule highlights and games of note:
The Fight for the Golden Shovel
February 22: v. Hobart (at Earth); February 25: @Binghamton; March 4: Canisius; March 18: @Colgate; April 8: Syracuse
The Hobart date still doesn't have a location (you'd have to think that Cornell and Hobart want to try and get that game in the Carrier Dome to avoid a pregame warmup that consists solely of shoveling snow and cursing Central New York for existing), but that doesn't erode the fact that the Red are canvassing Upstate New York. Disappointingly, though, the Red didn't add Siena or Albany to their agenda, halting their Snowbelt adventure with Colgate (everything west of Hamilton, New York is included). The Red's schedule is still a regional curmudgeon's dream, however, allowing for the Big Red to try and smack their geographic peers in the face with snowballs.
Three Games per Seven Days
March 1-8: @Michigan, Canisius, Virginia; March 15-22: Yale, @Colgate, @Pennsylvania; April 5-12: Harvard, Syracuse, @Hofstra
The Ivy League puts its membership behind the eight ball a little bit given the conference's rules around when practice can start, and Cornell is going to feel the effects of that in 2014 in a unique way. The Big Red will go through three periods this coming spring where it needs to play three games in seven days (not to mention the fact that Cornell is also playing seven games in March, which is really aggressive). The chunks of play are unique: The first period allows the Red to get up to speed against inferior competition but ends with what should be a challenging date against the Cavaliers; the second chunk comes a week after the first, featuring two road trips and two important Ivy League dates against opponents that should reside toward the top half of the conference in 2014; and the closing period of compact games feature a potentially dangerous trip to Long Island and a mid-week date against Syracuse just three days after facing Harvard. That is a lot of important lacrosse games coming in quick succession without much turnaround. Cornell is going to need to come correct without mitigation if it hopes to survive this.
March 15: Yale; March 22: @Pennsylvania; March 29: @Dartmouth; April 5: Harvard; April 19: Brown; April 26: v. Princeton (at Bethpage, N.Y.)
In any other season Cornell's Ivy League slate doesn't look daunting. In 2014, though, the Red will go through some important transition from 2013, working within a universe that looks markedly different than the one of the recent past. Opening with Yale and Pennsylvania is tough; both teams will push the Red in different ways and are more than capable of putting Cornell in a 0-2 hole to start Ivy play. The trip to Dartmouth isn't guaranteed relief, either: Princeton made the trek to Hanover last season and came away with a shocking 9-10 defeat. And the Red's closing three games are far from assured victories, including an increasingly difficult date against Princeton on Long Island. Making the Ivy League Tournament in 2014 is going to be a frantic tire iron fight, and how Cornell manages the heart of its conference schedule -- consecutive games against the Big Green, Crimson, and Bears -- may ultimately determine what the Red's May looks like.