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Syracuse came back from a late 3 goal deficit to defeat Cornell in overtime.

Hirbod Azmi checks in after the D2 championship game

Well the 2nd champion was crowned this afternoon, congratulations to C.W. Post on defeating Le moyne college 8-7 to win the division II national championship. Another great game to watch and it came down to the to the end but unfortunately Le Moyne was unable to tie the game with 1 minute to go. They had 3 great shots and 2 were saved and one went wide. The weather held up for the most part, it did start to rain again towards the end of the game and pretty hard during the trophy ceremony. After taking a bunch of celebration shots I grabbed all my equipment and headed for cover.

Thankfully the game ended when it did because on the ride back to the hotel it was pouring like no other, after 20 minutes of not being able see where we were going the sun came out and we got to see a full rainbow. I did not have my camera handy but Sparky came to the rescue so if the rainbow doesn’t look good it wasn’t me.

After unpacking and getting everything ready for tomorrow we decided to head into the big city of Boston for some post-lacrosse activates.

Cornell should walk off the field with their heads held high.  They had a great season and Jeff Tambroni is obviously a good coach.  But they really blew their chance.  And it was some coaching mistakes that are probably most to blame.

Late game coaching mistakes

  1. With roughly 8 minutes left in the game Cornell was trying to kill time when they were on man-up offense.  There was then a 2nd penalty and they were still content to hold the ball.  Cornell was only up 1 goal at that point.  With a man advantage and 8 minutes left, they should be trying to score, regardless of the size of the lead.  They never even attempted a shot on the 1st man advantage.  Another goal sure would have helped.
  2. Not getting a shot off when there is a delayed flag.  This is one of the most common mistakes in lacrosse these days - at any level.  Where there is a flag down and play-on situation, it’s a free shot.  Almost any shot is a good shot.  If you start paying attention you’ll notice how infrequently teams get off shots when there is a play-on penalty.  Cornell missed two free shot opportunities.  The players should be coach to recognize these situations and shoot the ball!
  3. Cornell was up 1 goal with about 1:30 left in the game.  They had the ball in Syracuse’s box and just needed to run out the clock.  Cornell’s Roy Lang (who Quint Kessenich refered to as awkward) had the ball covered by Abbott.  It was clear Abbott was working to take the ball away and that Lang was in trouble.  Cornell should have take the timeout.  Even if it meant Syracuse put a pole on the ball don’t you like any matchup with Seibald, Glynn,  or any attackman better?
  4. With roughly 25 seconds left in the game Cornell was given possession behind their goal to clear the ball.  They weren’t setup, they pushed the ball up field using a defenseman to try and dodge. Cornell should have taken a timeout and setup a clear. Or even brought Seibald down to run the ball.  This was the most obvious mistake at the end of the game.
  5. [EDIT] - The commenter made a good point which was meant to be on this list. When you get the ball in OT you call a timeout if you don’t have the best matchup on the field.  No reason to save the TO in OT.

Yes hindsight is 20/20, and being the head coach of a college lacrosse team playing on Memorial day is a monumental task. But making a different coaching decision on any of those three key 4th quarter situations likely wins the game for them.

Hirbod Azmi checks back in from the sideline.

Our first champion of the weekend was crowned, congratulations to the Cortland State Red Dragons. They defeated Gettysburg College by the score of 9-7. A great game to watch, there was some sloppy play at times but Cortland’s goalie Matt Hipenbecker played a great game which helped Cortland set a school record for most wins and a national championship.

With 2 minutes left in the game I was getting a little nervous because the black clouds were rolling in. you can hear the lightning and thunder but there refs didn’t call the game and I got lucky. Got the game winning picks in and ran upstairs to the press box just in time before the pouring rain.

Im sitting here in the press box watching the C.W. Post VS. Lemoyne game and writing this blog before I get back on the field to take some more picks. Lets hope the rain stops…

Where’s the Love for D2 and D3 Lacrosse?

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SUNY Cortland celebrates their schools 2nd National Championship

The Division 2/Division 3 Championships had less of a turnout than the D1 semis. This is nothing new. Traditionally during the D2/D3 day, many families when in Balti/Philly would find something to do on their “off” day. Historically the attendance is less than half that during semi-day. Personally I don’t understand why. Traditionally these games are closer and more exciting than the D1 games. But don’t take my word for it:

As one fan, Gary Price put it, “We just finished having a game of pick up lacrosse and mocking the Virginia defense. About the D2/D3 finals, how do you not go if you are a lacrosse fan. They are usually better than the D1 games. There is a lot less substitution and a lot less B.S. It is more pure lacrosse.” This sentiment is echoed by not only other casual fans tailgating during the games, but also lacrosse legend John Grant Jr. He told E-lacrosse, that he prefers the D2/D3 games over the D1 games.

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C.W. Post celebrates their 2nd National Championship - and first since 1996.

The D2/D3 championships are the epitome of the game. I know, the players might not be as skilled or as developed physically…however they are also not over coached. What I mean by this is that they have the freedom to play a run and gun style. There is also a lot of turnover and transition work. There is more “heart” in their play.

Since 2003, the D1 championship has been decided by 1 goal 3 times. Since 2003, the D2 championship has been decided by 1 goal 3 times, as well as the D3 championship being decided by 1 goal 3 times.

I’m watching the D3 championship before heading out to film more of the tailgate show we do each year. Gettysburg leads Cortland 4-2. I was surprised to see Gettysburg make the final after watching them get hammered by Stevenson earlier in the year, but I really like Hank Janczyk, the Gettysburg Coach, so I am glad he’s in. I can’t root for anyone up here in the press box, but I would root for the Bullets if I did. On the other hand there’s a chance for a total run of the table by upstate New York as Syracuse plays Cornell tomorrow and LeMoyne and Cortland have opportunities to win titles today. Remember that Onondaga already won the JUCO title last week. I’m not from upstate but I wouldn’t mind seeing them take all the titles again, rewarding the blue collar style of lacrosse they play up there.

I predicted Virginia to crush Cornell, but am so glad the opposite occurred. I really think certain sacrifices were made at Virginia over the last two years in the quest for a title that were errors in my judgment. A well rounded team with lots of experience would perhaps been able to recover against Cornell, but the guys with the skills to make that comeback were on the bench as they have been all year. I have nothing against the Brattons, either of them. But, neither has the abilities to carry a team to a title. That was obvious to me years ago when they played U-19 and should not have made that team. There are much better players, in my opinion, riding pine for UVa so that the twins can learn, on the field, things these other kids have known since 8th and 9th grade. This year, I thought UVa had enough talent all around to win anyway, but obviously not. If the Tewaaraton folks were watching I also think Glading is out of the running, as is Duke’s Ned Crotty as far as I am concerned. Enter Cornell’s John Glynn, who dominated Virginia even with an elbow injury. He’s not a finalist for the Tewaaraton award, but his excellent play may end up helping teammate Max Seibald win the award.

Cornell has a history of playing Syracuse tough so that may just be a great game and may even be a Cornell championship, which would be huge for the game and it’s escape from the grasp of the elite teams we see win year in and year out. So while I love the ‘Cuse and have since I was a kid, I want Cornell to win.

A few notes from the event in general. Yesterday, we tried to interview a guy leaving the Cornell Virginia game carrying a huge stuffed bear on his back. But when we caught up with him and asked for an interview after the Cornell win, he refused. No wonder. He was wearing Virginia shorts and shirt and had obviously stolen the bear mascot and was making an elusive exit from the stadium. I am sure that some Charlottesville frat house will be the new home of the Cornell bear. Some small consolation for a loyal fan who drove 10-15 hours to see his team choke.

There’s a guy for CBS College Sports on the field carrying a 50 pound TV camera on his back as he roams the sideline and runs on the field for close ups after goals and such. He will shoot both the D2 and D3 games with that monstrosity on his back. He is my MVP of the event. He just narrowly beats the excellent and friendly staff at Gillette Stadium. For the second year in a row they have performed exceptionally. One friendly employee really helped us out in navigation the complex parking lot to get from one spot to another amidst hectic traffic. She literally drove out of her way to let us follow her to the spot we needed to find. Thanks!

The press food at the D3 championship game is, for the first time ever, better than the D2 semis. I swear the chicken is garnished with leeks. There’s a Tomato and Mozzarella salad. I thought we might wait until San Francisco hosted the games in 2034 to get such fare at a lacrosse game. The pressure is on for Baltimore next year. I am thinking Crab dip and Berger Cookies.

The Patriot Place shopping area was completed in the off-season which makes the whole area a lot more convenient to be stranded for three days. An entire shopping mall and hotel complex now surrounds the stadium and the parking area seems to have doubled.

The only real mess up, from an organizational standpoint happened today, as the Sunday ticket received by all who bought the three day ticket package had the times of today’s games as 1:30 and 4:30 while the games really started at 12:00 and 2:30. The crowd has picked up considerably for the D3 game’s second half, many missing the first as they took their time getting to the venue because of the late start time they assumed was correct. Imagine sitting in a Denny’s eating your egg and bacon skillet while your team is playing without you after 8 hour drive to see the game.

I spoke to John Grant, Jr. and legendary Cornell coach Richie Moran today and they both love the D3 and D2 games. Jr. never goes into the D1 games, preferring the tailgate scene for Saturday and Monday. But he faithfully watches the Sunday games, saying they are just more exciting to watch. Coach Moran and I agreed that it’s the flaws that teams have and the exploitation of them that makes for great lacrosse and often at the D1 level, those are far and few between. It’s like the difference between college and pro basketball. I am addicted to college hoops and hate the pro game for exactly that reason and a couple others.

Yesterday, we passed an area where what looked like a carry on sized piece of luggage had been abandoned on the main concourse of the stadium. An announcement had been made to find the owner but the security around the bag was thick and dead serious, as it should be in a 50,000 person crowd with today’s post-911 sensibilities. So today, there are bomb dogs present at the venue. It feels weird but whatever they have to do for the safety of our community here in Foxboro, is ok with me.

Looks like Cortland is going to beat Gettysburg. It’s now 9-6 with 1:08 left and I am off to start today’s tailgate show. Talk to you tomorrow!

Hirbod Azmi checks in from the sideline at the 2009 Championships

Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend so far, this is my first Final four with a press/photo pass so it’s a big change and very exciting in a different perspective. I was fortunate enough to play in 2 championships and attend many final four’s through the years. Well my day started early for me, I really didn’t feel like sitting in Memorial day traffic on Friday night so I decided that I would leave at 5:30 Sat morning. About hour and half into the rainy ride I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I pulled over into one of the rest stops and took a nice 20 minute nap and then I was on my way. I got to good ol Brockton at around 9:15 and met up with John and he showed me to our wonderful room which smells like mold and smoke and for some reason we have a perfect round melted circle in our carpet.

At around 10:15 or so we meet up with Sparky & Josh Cornett and we piled in the E-lax toureg and were off to the Gillette stadium. We parked the car and were off to get our media passes and I feel like a little kid at this time, I haven’t been this excited for something in a while. I grab my pass and I’m in the stadium, I walked around a bit to check out the locker room and other goodies but I’m approached by one of the ladies in yellow and she kindly escorts me to the field and tells me that I’m not allowed to just mosey around.

As I get on the field I look around and the stadium which is starting to pack in and Syracuse and Duke are warming up so I get all my photo gear set up and I’m ready to take shots. I just got a new camera so I play around with it a bit to make sure that I know what I’m doing(some people out there may argue with that statement) and find the best spot on the field to get the best shots. I snap about 230 picks for the first half and during half time I run into Harry from the crease monkeys and spoke to him for a bit and found out where the Monkeys camp was set up, also ran into Kylor Berkman and wished him luck, lets hope he gets on a team this summer( MLL draft is this wed). I took another 200 shots for the second half and after a Syracuse win I had to sit down for a bit to relax the legs. Found a place to sit on the sideline and just watched the crowd. Watched Cornell and UVA goalies warming up and the rest of the players slowly came out and it was game time. For this game I moved around a bit and for the first time I was allowed on the same side as the bench so that was pretty cool, getting a different vantage point and I really think my foot may have been on TV……

After a big red win I followed Harry to the Monkeys tail gate, had some food and drinks and ran into some old friends. Hung around for a couple of hours and by this time it was 7:30 and it was time to head back to the Moldy Hotel. Downloaded my 800 picks and deleted about 200 so I have 600 shots to work with, hopefully Ill have 20-30 shots I can share with you guys.

Around 9 we got a call from Sparky & Josh that they were down at the sports bar in the hotel so John and I met up with them. After a couple of games of pool and some drinks I did something that I have never done or seen before and I have to ask the audience what the is correct call: If you hit the 8 ball in and scratch on the break do you win or lose the game?  Well I Lost the game but I still think I should have won……

It was around 12 by now and I was off to bed to get ready for Sunday’s game and festivities.

Here are a few photos from yesterday’s crowd and sidleines.

Wahoos Lose

Cornell pulled off a huge upset as they defeated the #1 ranked University of Virginia Cavaliers.  The Big Red played flawlessly. Their game plan was possession. Just like last week Cornell controlled the tempo of the game. They couldn’t help the fact that just about everything they threw at Virginia goaltender Adam Ghitelman seemed to get sucked in like a black hole into the net. At the end of the first half he only had 2 saves, and 8 goals against.

I will say this for Ghitelman, his defense was not helping the situation. Between missed coverages, poor slides, players just not having their head on a swivel and missing the cutters, it just seemed like no one was communicating out there on defense.

UVA didn’t get the ball on offense much. Cornell baked up their shots, and Ghitelman wasn’t making any saves. When UVA did try and transition, they committed some unforced turnovers. When they did have scoring opportunities (when not completely missing the goal), Cornell goalie, Jake Myers made the necessary stops.

I called it in my preview…when UVA middies get stymied, UVA loses. Virginia’s midfield totaled 1 goal and no assists. On the flipside, Cornell had 8 players with goals.

The show-down is set for a Central New York final…the question remains…will SU get title#10, or will Max Siebald carry his team to their first title in 21 years.

cortlandgettysburg1So the teams are set!  The Cortland State Dragons for the North and the Gettysburg Bullets for the South.  At stake, only the 2009 crown!!!

What a time to have PC issues.  So after burning through my hard drive I am finally back online.  I would’ve had both games wrong in the D3 Final Four so I’m okay with missing out on a post.  One comment stated that I crawled up in a shell after Salisbury lost.  I laughed, but there were some PC issues and a trip to Dewey caused there to be not enough time to get around to the PC issues.

I didn’t see the Stevenson game.  Were they cocky and didn’t think that they had to show up?  From a Stevenson fan, I got a text stating, “Gettysburg is real good.”  So they must’ve shocked the team and all the Mustang faithful.

Cortland has such a young offense and were able to put a stamp on their victory over the Panthers of Middlebury.  I did not see this beat down coming.  Middlebury was loaded with upperclassmen and seemed to have been on a roll, especially after the Wesleyan game.  Regardless of the outcome of this game, they have put in their application to be a great team for years to come and it has been accepted.

The 2009 D3 National Championship Game!!

Cortland beat the snot out of Gettysburg 14-8 earlier in the season, but this is not the same Bullets team as we saw in March.  But it also is not the same Cortland team, this is a finely tuned machine who has come out to play after a lazy mid season.

Gettysburg is 0-2 in D3 National Championship appearances  losing twice to Middlebury in ‘01,’02.

Cortland has themselves a D2 Championship  with a win over Hobart from 1975 and has a 1-4 D3 National Championship record winning in 2006 against Salisbury and two losses to each Hobart and Salisbury.

This will be Cortland’s 4th consecutive D3 National Championship game appearance.  This feat has been matched by 3 other teams (Hobart 12, Salisbury 6, Middlebury 5)

ncaa_2009-logoAttack
Advantage:  EVEN - Cortland is young so their numbers don’t match up to Gburg’s experience.

Midfield
Advantage:  EVEN - Both have a solid first line and SSM’s.

Defense
Advantage:  Cortland

Goalie
Advantage:  Gettysburg

LSM
Advantage:  Gettysburg - Kehoe.

Coach
Advantage:  Even - Hank has the years, but Beville has the recent NC experience.

Overall Advantage:  Slightly to Cortland

Prediction:  Cortland 13-10

by Elizabeth Cozart

Photo from GoDuke.com

Photo from GoDuke.com

Duke rookie longstick CJ Costabile describes himself as a bit of an “oddball.” He says he’s “happy,” “spontaneous,” and “loyal.” What he doesn’t say is that he’s also friendly, polite and personable.

But put him on the field and CJ becomes somewhat less concerned about the feelings of others. As a player, he describes himself as “persistent, “versatile,” “smart,” and “hungry,” adding that what he likes most is separating an opponent from the ball.

“I like defense the most,” says the 19-year old from New Fairfield, CT, “especially taking the ball away. I’m almost starting to feel like it’s a lost art. It’s awesome to check someone and knock the ball away. It sort of demoralizes the other guy.”

CJ stops, recognizing that his last statement might be misunderstood.

“I mean that sometimes playing defense means making the most of my athleticism,” he continues. “And the way we play defense at Duke is a team defense. Everybody’s gotta be on the same page and that was instilled early on.”

From the beginning of the school year, CJ says, the Duke defense spent time together, doing things together outside of practice that will bring them closer on the field. Bowling and skeet shooting were particular favorites, he says. Video games, too. Current Duke lacrosse team choices include Halo, NHL 2009, and the UFC demo.

Teamwork and unity are clearly things that are important to CJ’s life and his game. He says that while winning the MVP trophy at the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in May was a real thrill, the highlight of his rookie season was a moment in practice.

“One day I made a suggestion in practice to Coach Gabs (Duke assistant coach Chris Gabrielli) and he said ‘that works.’ That was really cool. It felt like I was learning and he was trusting me.”

CJ says that his teammates never frowned on him for being a freshman and he was sure that the squad had faith that he could get the job done.

“At the UNC game in the tournament,” he says of the final game which Duke won 15-13, largely on the strength of CJ’s explosive three-goal hat trick, “when Ned (Crotty) fed me the ball, he trusted that I could get the job done. It’s a progression. You build the trust in the other guys and they’ll believe in you, too.”

Summer camps were a big factor in his development, CJ says. He calls them “hugely important.”

“Without them I probably wouldn’t be here,” he said, referring to his spot on the Duke team. He points out that his hometown is hardly the center of the lacrosse universe.

“Coming from New Fairfield, which isn’t a hotbed of lacrosse,” he says, “no D1 coaches come and recruit. The camps are where you get seen.”

He advises young players who are interested in exposure to choose a camp that will both teach and give them plenty of opportunity to play.

“And go to the ones where you know the coaches will be,” he says. “Another great thing to do is go to camps that schools run. For example, if you want to play at Duke, go to a Duke camp so that the coaches can see you.”

CJ also got a lot of exposure at last year’s U-19 world championships, where the US won the gold medal at the games held in Coquitlan, in British Columbia. The US team has never lost a U-19 game.

“It was awesome to be able to represent the country,” he says. Again stressing the concept of teamwork, CJ tells of a story in which a player from West Point who had been injured and unable to play came to speak to the American squad.

“He talked to us about about missing the game and representing his country, the camaraderie, how he wishes he could fight side by side with his comrades, almost in service to his country. That was cool.”

Of his freshman year at Duke, CJ says that classroom demands have been one of his biggest adjustments.

“The hardest thing to deal with has been the academics at such a high level, maintaining that while still playing lacrosse,” he said.

Of the biggest influences in his life, CJ says it’s his parents. One or both of them have come to every Duke game this season and he says that “without them I wouldn’t I have been able to develop into the person I have become. They have been supportive from the start and continue to be my biggest fans”

“CJ is an extremely well balanced and even keeled young man and athlete,” said Duke head coach John Danowski. “ He loves to play and is loved by his teammates. His development has been impressive and he will continue to improve as he gains more DI experience.”

Costabile says he’d advise a young player trying to decide on a school to look past lacrosse.
“You just gotta find the right fit for you,” he said. “Look at a school, say ‘would I like to come here if I didn’t play?’ You want to put yourself where you’re going to succeed. What if you get hurt? It’s good to dream high but not everyone is going to play at Hopkins or Duke. Find the school that’s the best fit for you.”

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