Ivy League Men’s Lacrosse Profiles: Jeff Cohen (Harvard), Ari Sussman (Dartmouth), And Brendan Gibson (Yale) Talk About 2009-2010 Season

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Jeff Cohen, Harvard

Jeff Cohen, Harvard

What do you make of all the changes that transpired in the Ivy League over the summer?

  Bill Tierney leaving Princeton is obviously a shock. My two brothers went to Harvard, but before that, Princeton was always my favorite team to be honest. I grew up watching Princeton. Him leaving makes this a big year for Princeton. They’re crossing a bridge. They’re either going to make it otherwise or drop off. This is an opportunity for an up-and-coming program like Harvard to step up and take the lead in the Ivy League.

Harvard beat Duke and went 8-5 for its first winning season in five years in 2009. How do build on a season like that?

It was definitely a roller coaster at times. We had the big Duke win at the beginning. It was unbelievable, a milestone win for our program. That’s something people are still talking about in Cambridge, how big that win was. Then we play Brown, Prinecton and Cornell in 10 days and we lose all three of those games. This year, the schedule is a little more spread out. We won’t have to face three teams of that caliber within two weeks.

What do you think of the new Ivy League postseason tournament format?

We’re thrilled about that. It’s obviously a great opportunity to get more teams into the postseason. It also gives us a chance to play a team like Princeton, Cornell or Brown that we lost to by one or two goals and get back at them. If we had another shot at Cornell last year in the Ivy League tournament, we could have had them.

It’s a great opportunity for the league. It will give us more exposure. It’s going to be a great thing for the sport, even. The highest seed hosts the tournament. If it’s at Harvard, I think we can get a ton of fans up in the stadium, or even at Princeton near New York City.

What impact will three new head coaches have on the league?

There’s going to be some new flavor. A lot of times when you get coaches like Bill Tierney that have been around so long, they kind of know. They don’t have to look too far to find scouting reports. The new guys coming in are going to bring different philosophies.

After a phenomenal freshman season, you opted to remain at Harvard over the summer. Why?

Me and seven other guys stayed. We had an apartment in Cambridge. We took classes and worked out four days a week with our strength coach Tim Mullen. You get a credit and also have the full resources of the weight room, which we feel is one of the best in the country. You get to be tighter with teammates working towards a common goal. It’s something we feel sets our program apart from others.

Is 2010 Harvard’s year?

We all know we’re definitely not the favorites, but we’re one of the dogs in the race.

How do you like working in tandem with Dean Gibbons on Harvard’s attack?

I love playing with Dean. He’s such a great player. A lot of people see him as a finisher. What they don’t realize is Dean is a really good passer. He’d be playing at “X,” and I’d be inside. It’s such a pleasure playing with him. If you’re open even a split second, he can find you.

Dean also does a great job turning the corner when he comes around the net. I try to copy what he does, and his work ethic is second to none. That’s something I try to embody.


Ari Sussman, Dartmouth

Ari Sussman, Dartmouth

The Ivy League has always been tight. How will a postseason tournament augment that?

 Everyone’s competitive with one another. These are kids who grew up together playing against each other. It’s the same type of kid. We all know each other. Now it’s only magnified with all these changes and the Ivy League tournament. You can drop your first two or three Ivy League games, win your next three and by a No. 2 or 3 seed in the tournament and be in it to the very end.

Can Dartmouth take advantage?

We’ve unfortunately been in the bottom of the league the last couple of years. But if you can sneak a 2-4 record out of those six games, you could be in the tournament. Every game matters… Us and Penn, we’re the teams that have been sitting on the third-, fourth-, fifth-seed level. These changes make it really, really exciting.

Of the teams with new head coaches, Dartmouth appears to have the easiest transition with the promotion of Andy Towers. What do you think of that move?

From a very selfish standpoint, I’m a senior, and I was hoping Coach Towers would get the job. It’s going to be seamless. You don’t have to establish a whole new relationship with someone. He’s the best leader. We have a phenomenal relationship. He oozes confidence in everyone.

My freshman year, our first game was against Duke, and that was their first game back from their incident. We started five or six freshmen that game, and we all thought we were going to win that game. That confidence comes from Coach Towers and goes through everyone on our team.

How do you explain the reemergence of great attackmen in the Ivy League?

It’s kind of been duos that have done unbelievably well. Last year, it was Brian Koch and me, Rob Pannell and Ryan Hurley at Cornell, Thomas Muldoon and Jack Walsh at Brown and the McBrides at Princeton. It’s fun

What kind of offensive style will Dartmouth employ in 2010?

Dartmouth has been more run-and-gun, and that’s only been hyped up by the Towers mindset. We love to push the ball. We are not the settled offensive team. Coach Towers is really going to push this whole “go when you want to” mindset.


Brendan Gibson, Yale

Brendan Gibson, Yale

How did you try to elevate your game this summer?

 I was in British Columbia playing box for the first half of the summer. It was a rude awakening. I played for the Langley Thunder. Brock Rhodes, the GM, called me. One of our players played up there last year. It was Junior A. Some seniors on our team are guys like Garrett Billings, Canadian guys that you hear about in Division I. 

How did it help?

It’s a completely different game that focuses on stick skills and in-tight stuff.

Canadian box players like to drop their gloves. Did you get in a fight?

I did one time. Somebody tried to fight me and they didn’t get my helmet off. The next time, he was successful, and we fought. There are a couple of people up there that you’re like, “I’m definitely not going to fight you.” That’s their only purpose.

What do you think of Yale’s potential in a revamped Ivy League now that your coach, Andy Shay, is the second-longest tenured in the league?

I like how it’s looking, but we’ve been trying to capitalize on that potential the last couple of years. It’s nice to hear other teams are starting from scratch with new coaches, and the tournament is a nice bonus. It’ll help our strength of schedule. Besides that, we just have in-house stuff to deal with?

What kind of in-house stuff?

We have our whole defense to fill. Most of our team was seniors last year, and we have 11 freshmen coming in who are all pretty good. There’s going to be some changes made. People who were playing might not be.


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