Each week, The Sun will publish a Q&A with a college lacrosse player to get you more acquainted with the player and his/her team. In honor of the Konica Minolta Face-Off Classic at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore Saturday, today's guest is Rob Pannell, a junior attackman for No. 13 Cornell and a leading candidate to win the Tewaaraton Award.
Question: Since you're the only player on the Big Red to have reached double digits in points, do you feel that you have to shoulder the workload on offense?
Answer: I don't really feel pressure at all. I've never been one to get uptight and feel pressure in big situations. I've always been the guy to handle the ball and be calm. I think the last two years, I kind of came into that role, and I've had guys like [former Cornell standouts] Max Seibald, John Glynn and Ryan Hurley to take a little bit of that pressure off me. But I still think that I can be that go-to guy. … I feel like I've accepted that role, and I love having the ball in my stick and setting up my teammates and doing whatever I can to help them. That still hasn't changed.
Q: How have things changed under head coach Ben DeLuca, who succeeded Jeff Tambroni?
A: It's a lot of the same. Coach DeLuca has been here for 10 years, and he's learned a lot from Coach [Dave] Pietramala and Coach Tambroni, and he played for Cornell as well. So he knows what it is that makes Cornell so successful and what we need to do every day that differentiates us from our opponents. That stays the same — the discipline, the blue-collar mentality, hard work. While it's a little different shifting from an offensive head coach to a defensive head coach, Coach [Matt] Rewkowski [the team's offensive coordinator] has certainly done a great job of coming in and handling the offense and picking up right where we left off. … A lot of the things that makes our program successful and has put us in the position that we've been in for the past two years is still here and they're not going to go anywhere because we know what needs to be done. We know this is what needs to be done to be successful, and Coach DeLuca is right there alongside with us.
Q: I imagine you see opponents' best defensemen in every contest. Just once, don't you wish you could be matched up against a short-stick defensive midfielder?
A: Not at all. I look forward to the challenge. Sometimes during the course of a game, I might get a short stick on me, but it doesn't last very long. The slides come very early. You get used to that. While sometimes it does get very frustrating, you have to deal with it. I look forward to the challenge of going up against guys like [Princeton junior] Chad Wiedmaier, [Syracuse senior] John Lade, [Army senior] Bill Henderson. … Teams usually respect me, and I respect their best defensemen. I spend a great deal of preparation watching them and watching their team defense."