Brandon Corp may be the best college attackman in New York, and you’ve probably never heard of him. A heralded player from Chittenango, N.Y., about 15 miles east of Syracuse, he does not play for the area’s colorful flagship program, but for one a little further down the road.
Corp, along with his talented senior classmates, have turned Colgate University into a team to be reckoned with in collegiate men’s lacrosse. The Raiders have beaten their area rival Syracuse the past two years, with Corp providing the game winner in this May’s exciting bought. In fact, he has nine game winning goals in his three years at Colgate.
“Whenever we’ve needed a big goal, we’ve always looked to him,” said Kevin Colleluori, a senior attackman along with Corp. “I think he knows that. I think he knows we expect him to score big goals when we need.”
Corp does like the big stage, particularly the Patriot League Tournament. In three years of play he’s amassed 22 points with very balanced numbers (12,10). In Colgate’s impressive run to the Patriot League title last season, Corp set the new tournament records for goals (8) and points (11), en route to being named Patriot League Tournament MVP, as well as a Third Team All-American.
Playing in their first ever NCAA Tournament game last year, the Raiders nearly toppled the favored Great Western Lacrosse League champions Notre Dame before finally falling in the waning minutes of overtime.
But even with a year like that, if the name Brandon Corp still doesn’t ring a bell; it’s not that surprising. If you talk to Corp, he just seems too quite and introspective to be a flashy star.
“I have never met a kid that was so humble,” Collelouri said. “It’s almost like he’s embarrassed to take all the credit that he does.”
Colleluori can boast of Corp’s prominence because he shares much of that success. The two attackman have developed a chemistry that yielded 100 points between them in 2008.
“I think we totally compliment each other,” Collelouri admitted. “He’s more of a play maker. He draws two or three guys sometimes, and I get lucky and get to be the finisher. I could tell you where he’s on the field at all times. I mean we’ve been playing together for the last three years, so I think we’ve built a good chemistry together.”
Corp has noticed the rapport with his teammate too.
“Last year, me and Kevin Colleluori, we were on the same page, and we had a lot of chemistry going,” Corp said. “It was hard for teams to really cover the both of us. Kevin is a great player, a tough guy, and we really complimented each other down at attack.”
That Colleluori-Corp connection was part of a Colgate offense that averaged almost 10 goals a game playing a fluid, up-tempo style that tried to catch teams off guard.
“We run a motion offense; we don’t orchestrate a lot,” said Coach Jim Nagle, the man at the helm of the Raiders. “We never tell the guys we’re going to hold the ball, we’re going to sit on it. What we try to encourage is good decisions and shot selection so that if we have an opportunity and it’s in the first 10 seconds and it’s a good one, we’re going to take it, but at the same time we’re not just trying to run down the field and take any shot.”
Letting his players dictate the game plays to the strengths of guys like Corp. It’s also a lot of fun.
“I hate slowing the pace, I’m more of a transition guy, “Collelouri said, “I love to push the ball, and I know Corp does. I think those are the best strengths we have…giving us that freedom definitely helps our game.”
An up-tempo style with few set plays allows Corp to exploit defenses with his physical gifts. Perhaps he doesn’t have the slickest stick or the craftiest play, but he exudes speed, power, and ability.
“We try to encourage him to be as dynamic as he can,” said Nagle when describing Corp’s role in the offense. “He’s one of these guys that seems to go full speed but play under control always. He isn’t just a physical athlete; he sees the game at a different speed.”
Those that line up against Corp must try to match that physicality. It’s not easy.
“I think his athleticism is a huge part of his game,” said Andrew Watkins, a senior defenseman who often covers Corp at practice. “Every time he steps on to the field he’s the most athletic person on the field…Because of his incredible speed and athleticism, you have to be more cautious when you play him.”
“He just takes over games,” as Collelouri put it.
Though it may be a lofty comparison, Corp’s style emulates that of his childhood hero, another Central New York star.
“Growing up in the Syracuse area,” Corp explains, “I used to look up to Casey Powell for sure. I just liked how he played. He made big plays, and he made it look so easy…He was the best player on the field all the time. He didn’t let up. He didn’t have any bad games.”
As a highly touted high school player, Corp was recruited by Powell’s alma mater (as well as some other top programs), but after meeting with Coach Nagle, Corp chose Hamilton, N.Y. over Syracuse as his new home.
“I chose Colgate because Coach Nagle was so honest, and I knew exactly what he wanted from me coming into it. I knew I had potential to get good playing time, and I just thought he was the most honest about the whole situation to me.”
“I think our evaluation of him was maybe a little more in tune than some other people’s,” Nagle said. “We kind of knew how special he was. He wouldn’t tell you, but he’s a three sport, All-State guy and was recruited to play other sports at the Division I level.”
The academic tradition at Colgate also appealed to Corp’s desire to constantly learn and improve.
“He was a tremendous student,” Nagle said, “So he valued education and wanted to get a great education and be challenged in the classroom. That was the biggest selling point.”
That quest to tackle challenges and better one’s self should help Corp with his new role this year as a team captain.
“It was an honor for me to be a captain of the team,” Corp said. “It was a big responsibility for me, and a challenge most of all…I know that people look to me, so I have to be a role model out there in the field really, just do whatever I can and lead by example.”
Though he goes about this new role quietly, his teammates have noticed the tone Corp sets and the example he is to everyone on the field.
“I think he’s a lead by example guy,” Watkins said. “He’s an All-American. He could just come out everyday and go through the motions, but he really comes out to work on things Coach [Nagle] tells him to work on. You can see everyday him getting better…[he] really sets the tone for the rest of our team to do the exact same thing, whether you’re Brandon Corp or the last guy on the bench.”
Hard work in the offseason should translate to improvement from last year’s already successful team. Both Watkins and Corp see the 2009 Raiders taking another Patriot League title, but this year advancing further into the NCAA tourney.
“I think this is a better team than last year,” Corp said. “Personally, I think anything short of what we accomplished last year is unacceptable.”
Despite losing some key seniors (Matt Lalli and Chris Eck, just to name two), the tools, along with the experience, should be in place for Colgate to have another successful campaign.
As for Corp, he just needs to keep doing what he’s been doing, and soon his name will ring out a bit further and louder.
“I just have to come out there,” Corp said, “and try to be the best athlete on the field all the time.”