The Washington Times - May 24, 2009, 03:21PM

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – I’ve run into Maryland coach Dave Cottle probably a dozen times throughout the weekend; it’s not a surprise since he’s a member of the tournament selection committee.

He’s a shrewd observer, and agreed to offer an assessment of tomorrow’s Syracuse-Cornell championship:

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“Faceoffs, with what’s going on with the Cornell faceoff guy and the Syracuse guy, that’s going to be one thing.

“The question is Cornell has overturned one loss when they had only four saves in the [first] game. I’m just going to say Syracuse is probably going to put more shots on cage. He’s going to have to meet that challenge, and he’s done it so far. Princeton only had nine shots on cage. I think you’re going to see Syracuse put more shots on cage.

“Syracuse of all the teams has done the best job of handling sliding defenses. They’ve done a good job of getting inside defenses. That’s going to be a real challenge. [Cornell’s] been playing good team defense. You can play good team defense and Syracuse will still get a six-yard shot. Their size in the midfield overwhelms some teams. …

“[Syracuse’s] short stick d-middies are as talented as anyone they have. If you go back, they’re getting tremendous production out of the third attack spot. It’s a three-headed monster. [Jake Moulton] has done a pretty good job facing off Syracuse. Him coming back from injury has really helped them. That’s going to be an interesting matchups. You would think going in Cornell would have an advantage there, but the way [Moulton] has improved, he’s doing a good job.

“If you’re Cornell, you have to play your system and you have one day to practice anyway and you can’t put anything new in. You’re going to see them tightly compacted, play the ball hard, force them to one side or another depending on if it’s weak or they’re going to cut the field in half, slide early, and make them make a bunch of passes before they score. I think that’s what Cornell has got to do and I think that’s what they will do.

“You have to reduce transition. Duke kind of encouraged it and if you encourage transition, you’re going to get some. …

“Cornell has circled the wagons. We were at their hotel in New York [for the quarterfinals] and you could tell they’re very focused and very strong-willed. That’s the thing you appreciate about Cornell is their will.”

Patrick Stevens