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Matt Kerwick enjoys his first victory as head coach

Coach Matt Kerwick enjoys his first victory as head coach of the Big Red men's lacrosse team as Cornell defeats his alma mater, Hobart, 12-8 on Feb. 22. Photo: Dave Burbank.

New head lacrosse coach's job a 'dream come true'

In his childhood home in Irondequoit, New York, Matt Kerwick played beneath a painting of Cornell's McGraw Tower that hung in the living room. Now the newly appointed Richard M. Moran Head Coach of Men's Lacrosse at Cornell University works just a short distance from the real thing.

Matt Kerwick addresses the men's lacrosse team

Coach Matt Kerwick addresses his team during a break in play Feb. 22 as the Big Red takes on Hobart. Photo: Dave Burbank.

Kerwick, whose parents and eldest sister graduated from Cornell, served as the Big Red's interim head coach during the 2014 season. Following a nationwide search by Andy Noel, the Meakem♦Smith Director of Athletics and Physical Education, on June 11 Kerwick was named the 11th head coach in the men's lacrosse program's 122-year history.

"I was hanging out at home when I saw the email from Mr. Noel saying that Coach Kerwick earned the job, and I was so excited and really relieved," says Big Red All-American Connor Buczek '15. "There's no doubt that Coach Kerwick is the right guy for the job. He was so great in the fall helping us move forward. I think he can make this team a contender next year, because the guys are willing to play hard for him."

Kerwick earned the position after the 2014 squad exceeded expectations. After graduating 16 seniors in 2013, including Tewaaraton Trophy winner Rob Pannell, Cornell was selected 17th overall in the 2014 Inside Lacrosse Preseason Poll, marking the first time since being tabbed 11th in 2003 that Cornell was chosen to finish outside the top 10. Once the Big Red season began Feb. 22, the team rose in the USILA coaches' poll for four straight weeks before earning a No. 2 ranking March 24.

The team finished the year with an 11-5 record overall and a mark of 5-1 in the Ivy League, winning the program's 11th Ivy League title in the past 12 seasons and earning an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament, where they fell to national semifinalist Maryland on a goal scored with two seconds to play in the contest.

While the ending to the 2014 season was a disappointing one, there is already great excitement for 2015, thanks to the returning players and the style of the man who will coach them.

"I think Cornell plays lacrosse the way it was meant to be played," Kerwick says. "I want to play an exciting style of lacrosse that's fun for the players and fun for the fans to watch. We play a fast style. We're not afraid to shoot getting off the bus, and we want to get after people on the defensive end."

That style is evident. Despite graduating two of the most prolific scorers in Cornell history, the 2014 Big Red averaged just 1.8 fewer goals per game than they had the previous season. In fact, excluding the 2013 season, the 12.75 goals per game in 2014 was the most for Cornell since the 2007 season.

"Any coach that preaches an up-tempo offense like Coach Kerwick makes the game fast-paced and really exciting," says Buczek. "That's the kind of game that I like to play, so he's perfect for me."

It's not just his coaching style on the field that makes Kerwick perfect for the Big Red, but his connections to East Hill off the field help him recruit student-athletes.

"I grew up a part of a Cornell family, and many of my friends played here over the years," Kerwick says. "I've had a great familiarity and respect for Cornell University, and I always tell recruits that I have never met a Cornell person (and that includes my parents and sister) who doesn't live and die by the things that Cornell does today. It's a place they want to come back to, and it's a place they want to send their children to. And it really is a dream come true for me to have this position."

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Video: Big Red Bios: Matt Kerwick

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