With a Harvard (4-3, 1-1 Ivy) team coming into Saturday’s game against No. 9 Cornell (5-2, 3-0 Ivy) boasting a 6.84 goals allowed per game average, the Red knew it needed to be organized offensively and come out to a strong start.
And Cornell responded accordingly, kicking the game off with an 8-1 run and scoring in double digits in a dominating 16-6 win over the Crimson at Schoellkopf Field. Senior attack Sean Greenhalgh led the Red with a five-goal performance.
In comparison to last week’s game against Penn, in which the Red fell to an early three goal deficit in the first quarter, Cornell got out to a fast against the Crimson. Less than two minutes into the first quarter, senior midfielder Justin Redd found classmate Kevin Nee, who drew first blood by scoring his 13th goal of the season. Nee finished with four goals and two assists on Saturday.
A minute later, the Red scored on a man advantage after Evan Calvert was penalized for cross-checking. Redd was again the provider, finding Greenhalgh, who had space in front of Harvard’s net and blasted a left-handed shot past Crimson goaltender Evan O’Donnell. The Red was up, 3-1, after the first with Cornell senior midfielder Ian Rosenberger hitting the back of the cage before Harvard attack Mike McBride responding with the Crimson’s first goal with three minutes left in the period.
“I thought we shot the ball better today early on in the offensive end,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “I felt like we were a little bit more selective on our shots and I think once we went up 3-0, you could feel a sense of relief.”
In the second quarter, the Red continued its surge when junior Derek Haswell burst past his defender from behind the net and wrapped around to shoot past O’Donnell. Nee hit his second after he found plenty of space from close range to score. Greenhalgh, Haswell and Nee again found the back of the cage towards the end of the second to give the Red an 8-1 lead going into the break.
“Against Penn, we went down early and nobody wants to go down early in a game, especially against a team like Harvard,” Greenhalgh said. “It meant a lot to us to be able to get off to a big-time start like we did today especially since this year, we’ve really been kind of slow out of the gates.”
Throughout the game, the Crimson’s offense never truly got started, thanks in large part to the Red’s dominance and aggressiveness in the middle of the field. In the second half, the Crimson completed just 5-of-12 clear attempts and the Red capitalized by controlling possession and scoring three goals off these turnovers.
Similar to its past two games, the Red’s defensive unit forced the Harvard attack to the perimeter, thereby decreasing the Crimson’s opportunities for quality scoring chances. Harvard had 21 shots on the day compared to Cornell’s 36.
“I think our first midfield line has done a great job all year long. You have to credit all of those guys. I think they’re beginning to share the ball a lot and work really well together,” Rosenberger said. “Our defensive midfield has been phenomenal all year. We feed off guys like [junior David] Bush and [junior] Cam Marchant and [junior] Mike Pisco. They’re making plays in the defensive end and then coming up through transition and making some big plays [in the offensive end]. They’ve been doing it all year and that continued to today.”
Harvard got on the board first after the intermission. The Crimson’s Zach Widbin scored two minutes into the third quarter, and then Brian Mahler found the back of the cage to bring the Crimson within five. Tambroni felt the Red’s aggressiveness let up briefly and the Crimson momentarily took advantage.
“I think it was really important [to stay aggressive after the intermission] because a half is still a lot of lacrosse left,” Nee said. “We didn’t necessarily play the third quarter as well as we wanted to but I think as a half as a whole, we dug deep and came to play and never let up for one bit and that helped a lot.”
After Mahler’s tally, the Red responded almost immediately, as Pisco found surging senior midfielder J.D. Nelson, whose shot beat O’Donnell, giving the senior his first goal of the season.
While Greenhalgh and sophomore Brian Clayton found the back of the cage in the third, the Crimson responded with a couple of their own heading into the fourth quarter. But Cornell iced the game in the fourth, going on a 5-1 run to close out the encounter, which included a spectacular Greenhalgh goal when he intercepted an O’Donnell clear attempt and shot from almost halfway down the field up and over the goaltender, who was out of position. Greenhalgh has now scored in 26 straight games.
“If Sean is not on the scoring sheet, I’ll be shocked if we’re winning games,” Tambroni said. “He just makes everything look so easy out there, he scores from angles that I wouldn’t even try to coach guys to shoot … It seems like in the last couple of games starting from our Ivy League stretch, that he has found a way to get himself into lanes and create open looks.”
Although Greenhalgh and Nee were the leading scorers, the Red received help from a variety of sources as 13 players earned at least one point. Thirteen of its 16 goals were assisted — a telling statistic of the team offense the Red is generating. In addition, the Red has allowed a mere six goals per game in Ivy League action.
The Red will have little time to relax, as it travels to the Carrier Dome tomorrow evening to face perennial regional rivals, No. 7 Syracuse.
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor