One of the prize jewels of Cornell’s recruiting class, Roy Lang was a 2008 Under Armor All-American and the heir apparent to assume some of the offensive load from graduating senior midfielders Max Seibald, John Glynn and Rocco Romero.
But to Matt Restaino, Lang’s game didn’t bring back memories of a Matt Striebel, A.J. Haugen or Paul Rabil. Sure, the California southpaw was big, athletic and Seabiscuit-like the way he could swallow swaths of turf with just a couple long galloping strides. But Lang’s side-armed slingshot and herky-jerky, upright motions differed from the way elite midfielders generally dangle their sticks.
“To be honest, it took a good week to admit to myself that his style of play was going to make an impact,” Restaino recalled with a laugh.
Now, the two are close friends, and any doubts about Lang’s game translating have long since been erased. If any question remains about the junior, it’s only to wonder he good he will be, and whether he’s ready to play lead dog for the Big Red midfield.
Lang’s unorthodox style can be traced in part to a lacrosse path that didn’t follow the traditional routes up I-95 or across I-90. A Mill Valley, Calif., native, Lang picked up the game early at the encouragement of his father, who played at Princeton. By his senior year of high school, Lang helped cement St. Ignatius’ legacy as a national power and flagship for Northern California high school lacrosse.
Playing in an emerging hotbed influenced Lang’s game. While quality lacrosse has arrived in the Golden State, Lang admitted his physical tools too often allowed him to run through double teams instead of having to learn read and react to them.
Whatever he lacked in seasoning as a Cornell freshman in 2009, Lang more than made up for with toughness and moxie between the stripes. Like San Diego native Spencer Wright, who proved to the Syracuse faithful more than a decade ago that you didn’t have to be indoctrinated at Shove Park to play the game well, Lang quickly carved out a role playing defensive midfield, with some spot duty on extra man.
As solid as Lang’s freshman campaign was (nine goals, two assists, 35 ground balls), it will probably be unfairly remembered for its last five and a half minutes. They came in the NCAA championship game against Syracuse. Lang caught the ball at the top of the box, ran right through a Joel White check and fired a sidearm scorcher from 12 yards out to put Cornell up 9-6. Lang’s late-game heroics, however, were overshadowed when he tipped a Matt Abbottt desperation pass to Syracuse attackman Kenny Nims with just four seconds remaining in regulation. Nims scored on the doorstep to send the game to overtime, and the Orange eventually won the game 10-9.