Cornell Lacrosse Tops Army 14-5, Advances to Final 4May 26, 2010 —
By Alex Post
The theme of the game was growth; and Cornell showed they had clearly grown up this season. The Big Red took on Army on Sunday prepared to play a complete game; and that’s just what they did to move on in the NCAA Tournament to the semifinals next weekend in Baltimore.
In the first quarter Cornell started off strong winning the face-offs and keeping possession for much of the period. The Big Red scored four goals before Army could put up one, but with 2:04 left in the first, Jeremy Boltus of Army was able to finally put one past Cornell goalkeeper AJ Fiore.
At the start of the second quarter Ryan Hurley, who scored twice in the first for Cornell, received the first penalty of the game but then assisted on a Steve Mock goal and scored one more of his own to complete an early hat trick. Hurley had a record breaking day for the Big Red, passing Sean Greenhalgh on the Cornell career goals list to assume second place all-time with 138. Also, with his five points including a fourth goal coming in the final quarter, Hurley surpassed Jon Levine to move into third place in Cornell history for career points.
Army would not give up despite a 5 point second period deficit. They began to consistently win face-offs, but were unable to convert possessions into goals in the second quarter until 7:58 left when Devin Lynch scored and then a huge penalty against Cornell with 4:13 left took sophomore Rob Pannell out of the game and gave Garrett Thul an opportunity to score. The lead was narrowed to just 3 with less than four minutes remaining in the half.
When Pannell returned to the field though, he immediately set up a play behind the net that led to another Mock goal. As the teams left at the half, Cornell led by four.
The Big Red had been known to fall apart in the second half, but with only a four point lead in a high pressure situation Cornell returned in the second half with as much effort as they did at the first whistle. “Today we were able to keep possession in the first and second half” said Rob Pannell. The prolonged possessions allowed the Red to give their defense a break and focus on the offensive end.
When asked about their ability in this game to play as well in the second half as they did in the first, Coach Tambroni said “every time Army made a play our guys believed we were gonna make a play.”
Tambroni’s comments were evident in the third quarter. When Army scored a man-up goal at 9:06, Cornell retaliated three times over, twice by Pannell, to give them a cushiony 11-4 lead. “When it got to 8-4, they made it 9-4,” was how Joe Alberici, the Black Knights head coach, put it.
In the final period Cornell began to turn the ball over more often, but Army was again unable to turn the added possessions into points. Jeremy Bollus said that Army “rushed things” near the net. Fiore’s 11 saves didn’t help the Black Knight’s cause either.
With 7:42 left in the game Army called a timeout after Mike Branzino scored for the Big Red to push the Cornell lead to 13-4. Alberici stressed that they wanted to show who they were and make their fans proud by playing through the final whistle, but in the end “they came up short.”
Not only did they come up short, but Cornell came out strong and stayed strong. They scored again with 6:13 left to make the lead 10. The Black Knights were able to net the final goal of the game, but in the end it was Cornell who came away with a 14-5 victory to the final four the second consecutive season and the third time in the last four years.
Rob Pannell said of Cornell that they were “becoming a family right at the right time” and now that they’ve gotten to this point in the post-season the “sky’s the limit.” Next up for the Big Red is a semifinal matchup with Notre Dame on Saturday at 4 PM at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore.