Goalie Duel Up North: Hincks, Cornell Headline Dartmouth-Vermont Midweek Clash

(Photos: Dartmouth and Vermont Athletics)

On the banks of the Connecticut River, just miles from the Vermont-New Hampshire line, two teams with two different goalies, size-wise and stylistically, will converge on Tuesday, precisely as the clock strikes three in the afternoon.

The 6-foot-5, 210-pound senior Daniel Hincks has been proving himself to be a great green wall for the Dartmouth lacrosse team for four years now. Emblematic of the pine tree stamped on the back of the helmet of the Big Green players, the Newton, Mass. native is big, tough, and as sturdy as they come in between the pipes.

On the other end of the field will be Ryan Cornell of the visiting Vermont Catamounts. The 5-foot-11, 155-pound graduate student from Darien, Conn. very much reflects the mascot of the Catamounts. He has cat-like reflexes, is as active in and out of the cage as any in goalie college lacrosse, and at times unpredictable. But he always brings the excitement.

Hincks has been tasked with being the primary man anchoring the Big Green defense since his freshman season in 2019. And he proved it from the start as well, making 140 saves with a 54% save percentage as a freshman, ending the year with the 21st-best save percentage in the nation and being one of just three freshman in the top-25 in that category. He then built on that during the shortened 2020 season with 54 saves and a 62% save percentage. And in the Big Green’s lone game a year ago, the lengthy shot-stopper made 19 saves with a 57% save percentage against DIII power Tufts.

If only it weren’t for the 2020 season getting cut short and the Ivy League shutting down play in 2021, what else could Hincks have had in store?

Despite a rough past two years, he has come into his final campaign with as much strength as any goalie in college lacrosse. A 16-save effort with a 66% save percentage in an 8-6 loss against Merrimack opened the season for the senior and he followed it up with a performance even better, making 19 saves with a 67% save percentage in an 11-9 road win at Bryant. He then had nine saves with a 50$ against Siena on Saturday in the Big Green’s 11-9 win to help them to a 2-1 start on the season.

Cornell had to sit behind one of the best goalie in Vermont history in Nick Washuta, an All-American and All-Conference player, for three seasons before getting his time to shine as the starter in between the pipes for the Catamounts. He made 152 saves with a 51% save percentage last season while helping lead Vermont to a program-first America East title and NCAA Tournament appearance, and did so while showcasing a very different style than that of who came before him. And he has kept that up in 2022.

The graduate goalie can be easily described as the most active in college lacrosse. He is not only quick in the cage, but often times comes out of the crease to make plays as well. He has even taken clearing the ball over the midline into his own hands multiple times, for which he has earned one assist this season. Cornell also helps apply pressure on the 10-man ride and has had to sprint back to the crease on a dime and make unthinkable diving saves. It happened twice against Brown.

Facing a gauntlet of a schedule thus far with games against Duke, Utah, Penn State, Brown, and Bryant, two of which (Duke, Brown) are top-10 offense and all, except Bryant, of which are among the 35 best offenses in college lacrosse, Cornell has made 52 saves with a 49% save percentage thus far through Vermont’s 2-3 start. He made 11 saves with a 68% save percentage in the Catamount’s 16-6 win over Bryant on Saturday.

When these two teams take the field on Tuesday afternoon it will be the 28th all-time meeting between the two programs and first since 2020 where the Catamounts scored their seventh win in the series and third in the past five meetings with a one-goal, 9-8, win over the Big Green. In that game that took place exactly two years and one day from Tuesday’s, Hincks recorded 16 saves. Cornell came in for the second half after Washuta and the Catamount defense allowed Dartmouth to end the half with a 6-2 run and made five saves to record his first career win.

Perhaps, just maybe, Tuesday’s matchup will yield another defensive battle between these two schools, tucked away in the mountains and forrest of northern New England, practically secluded from the rest of the DI college lacrosse world that lies below them.

Past, present, and future success. Stylistic differences. Teams on somewhat different paths – one looking to push forward and the other looking to continue to recoup after a less than exceptional start to the season -, located in different states, but united by being the northernmost DI programs. It all feeds into what should be an exciting battle.

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