MOUNT VERNON – More depth and experience on the roster should benefit Cornell's men's lacrosse team as it enters Year 3 as a varsity program.
Coach Andy Bonasera's Rams made strides a year ago and came up one win short of a berth to the Midwest Lacrosse Conference Tournament. The team returns six all-MLC performers and welcomes a talented class of newcomers expected to make an impact.
"We have a group of freshmen who will fill in some remaining pieces to the team nicely, which will allow our returning players to get back to their more natural positions on the field," said Bonasera, whose team finished 3-10 overall, 2-4 in the MLC last season. "Our roster is more skilled and more situational. We added a little more depth that will allow us to play an up-tempo style that we want."
The Rams get their new season underway Sunday, Feb. 19 with a 1 p.m. faceoff at Augustana (Ill.) College, tri-champions of the CCIW who edged Cornell, 10-9, last spring.
Junior midfielder A.J. Fisher (JR/Elgin, Ill.) and junior defender Steve Janaes (JR/Bartlett, Ill.) will serve as 2017 captains for a team that brings back nine starters. Fisher earned second team all-MLC honors last year, leading the Rams with 24 goals. Janaes recorded 52 ground balls and 20 caused turnovers, both team-highs.
Tory Terbilcox (JR/Waunakee, Wis.) was voted Second Team All-MWC for the second straight season as a staple on the defensive end. The Rams will get a boost from the return of Carlos Siguenza (JR/Minneapolis, Minn.), a 2015 second team all-MWC pick who missed nearly half of last season because of injury. Siguenza has totaled a program-best 38 goals in 19 career games.
Galbraith Williams (JR/Fairfax, Va.), Michael Paquette (JR/Erie, Colo.) and Conor Hollowell (JR/Portland, Ore.) received honorable mention all-conference recognition over the past two seasons. Hollowell and Paquette tied for second on the team last year with 15 goals apiece.
Braedon Geraghty (SO/Otsego, Minn.), Michael Sansonetti (JR/Hoffman Estates, Ill.), Jack Bilenduke (SO/Frisco, Colo.) and Gabe Bizovi (SO/Portland, Ore.) are key returners who all started at least six games a year ago.
Cornell opens the home portion of its schedule Feb. 25 against Northwestern (Minn.), one of three first-year programs the Rams will face. Other notable nonconference games include road dates with Centre (Ky.), which reached its conference championship game last year, and 2016 NCAA Division III qualifier Carthage out of the CCIW.
Three of Cornell's seven home games will be held under the lights at Ash Park Stadium – Dubuque (March 1), Aurora (March 29) and Benedictine (April 8). The Rams also host Northland (March 4), Monmouth (March 22) and Hanover (April 15).
"We have some challenging games out of conference again this year, which will allow us to be tested early in the season as we prepare to compete in the Midwest Lacrosse Conference," Bonasera said. "Our goal is to get better each day and learn more about ourselves and the roles on our team."
The Rams are picked sixth in the MLC Preseason Coaches' Poll. The top four finishers qualify for the conference tournament in early May. The nine-team MLC has two new members this spring in Monmouth and Fontbonne.