On May 7, No. 12 Hobart upset No. 10 Cornell, 12-10, in the regular season finale for both teams in Geneva, N.Y. For the Red, the game was a final tune up before the NCAA tournament, which the team had already gained entrance to by virtue of its Ivy League title, and perhaps an opportunity to earn a first-round home game. For Hobart, the game was a chance to earn its first at-large bid to the dance since the program moved to Division I in 1995.
Eight days later, the teams met again, this time in Ithaca, this time in the first round of the national tourney.
And this time, there was no upset.
Seventh-seeded Cornell (9-4, 5-1 Ivy) had six different players record goals while freshman goalie Matt McMonagle recorded 14 saves, as the Red advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals with an 11-5 victory over the Statesmen (9-7, 6-1 Patriot League) on Schoellkopf Field this afternoon.
Junior Justin Redd led the way for Cornell, scoring a goal to go with his career-high four assists. The full-team effort proved to be all the Red needed to win its first NCAA tournament game since 2002.
“This was really a 39, 40-man effort up and down the field,” said senior co-captain Andrew Collins, who recorded three assists on the day.
“We were really trying to get everyone involved, that’s something we stressed in practice, not letting the ball stop between the attack and the middies,” Redd added.
The game started slowly, as neither team was able to muster much offensively for much of the first quarter. However, after play was suspended for 49 minutes due to weather with 7:16 remaining in the first frame, Cornell came out strong following the delay and struck first.
Sophomore Joe Boulukos received a pass from Redd on the left side of the cage, and bounced the ball past Hobart goalie Dan Valente at 8:43. Boulukos would score twice more for a game-high three goals on the day.
The Statesmen, however, returned the favor just 18 seconds into the second frame, as Chris David scored an unassisted goal to tie the game at 1.
Not about to allow a repeat of last weeks’ performance, Cornell went on a 7-2 run soon thereafter, to build a lead that would turn out to be too much for Hobart to overcome.
“It was another struggle offensively early going, and it was a good thing our defense kept us in it and Matty kept us in it early in the game,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “Our defense really tightened up, and it gave our offense a little bit of breathing room. And because they kept the score down, it kept our offense confident and allowed them to get a little bit of rhythm early on.”
The Red ran into its first difficulty of the game early in the fourth quarter. After senior midfielder Ian Rosenberger opened the scoring with a side-armer from 15 yards out at 3:11, the teams traded goals directly off of face-offs for the next two minutes, making what was an 8-2 Cornell lead a 10-5 game.
“At that point we just didn’t do a very good job for about four minutes of the game of taking care of the scouting report and taking care of the game plan and understanding who we were versus who they were,” Tambroni said. “We took some chances at that point that we probably didn’t need to take that certainly weren’t calculated risks.”
Tambroni called a timeout, and the Red quickly regrouped, returning to the pattern of play that had been so successful to that point. Cornell had 43 ground balls to Hobart’s 37, and was successful on 28 of 32 clear attempts.
“In watching the game from the sideline, I think the key was the ground balls,” said Hobart head coach Matt Kerwick. “Typically when you win the ground ball battle, and get opportunities after you pick it up, they’re a very good offensive team. The more possessions they get, the more opportunities they’ll get to score.”
Maintaining strong control on defense and in the midfield, Cornell added the capper at 8:40 in the period, when junior Kevin Nee scored his second goal of the game.
In addition to Boulukos’s three goals and Nee’s two, seniors Mike Riordan and Rosenberger each scored twice, while Redd and junior Sean Greenhalgh scored one goal apeice for the Red. Mark Williamson and Nate Hill had two goals each for the Statesmen.
Going into the game, the Red was determined to shut down Hobart’s inside scoring threats and control play in transition. Unlike in the loss of a week ago, the Red was successful in doing so.
“I think we just had a better overall understanding, maybe it was playing them last week. Matty had a great game personally. I think we gave him a chance,” said senior co-captain Tim DeBlois. “Last week, we gave them too many inside shots. We give them shots like that, it’s easy goals and Matty’s having a tough time. But we forced them to take some outside shots, and Matty starts playing like he does, and he made some great saves today.”
“They definitely shut down the middie play a little bit more,” said Hobart attack Hill. “[Last] Friday night, we definitely took advantage of that. They put the short stick on [Mike] Conklin, and that kind of turned us off a little bit.”
Next up for the Red will be the winner of the game between Penn and No. 2 Navy, which will be played tomorrow in Annapolis, Md. Cornell dropped a 10-8 decision to the Ivy rival Quakers earlier this season in Philadelphia. The Red has not played the Midshipmen since the 1978 season, when it won, 13-7. The NCAA quarterfinal game will be played on May 23 at Schoellkopf Field.
Notes: Hobart recorded its best season since moving from Division III to Division I in 1995 with nine victories. The Statesmen made their third NCAA Division I tournament appearance as a member of the Patriot League, their first as an at-large participant.
–Redd’s previous career high for assists in a game was three, which he had accomplished three times previously, most recently on May 7 at Hobart.
–Prior to the game, a moment of silence was observed in honor of the Red’s late co-captain, George Boiardi ’04, and Cornell football and track and field athlete, Jaime McManamon ’07, who died in a car accident Thursday night.
–Cornell now holds a 75-47-4 all-time record against Hobart, it’s oldest rival.
–The last time Cornell hosted an NCAA quarterfinal game, the No. 2 Red defeated Adelphi, 14-12, on May 17, 1987.
Archived article by Owen Bochner
Sun Sports Editor