SYRACUSE — A sea of red infiltrated the predominantly orange and white Carrier Dome last night in a clash of upstate rivals as the No. 8 men’s lacrosse team met the defending NCAA champions, No. 6 Syracuse. The two teams played up to the billing of a battle of two of the best teams in the country, as the game went down to the bitter end — leaving the crowd of over 4,000 people, including Syracuse men’s basketball coach Jim Boeheim, on the edge of their seats until the waning moments.
But in the end, the Red (6-2, 3-0 Ivy) was able to pull out a 16-14 win over the Orange (5-4) behind a career-high seven goals from junior Joe Boulukos, giving the Cornell its first win at the Carrier Dome since 1987.
“I just felt like, on this particular night, it was about belief,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “It was about the mentality that our guys carried into the game, that if we’re close coming down the stretch, that we were going to win this game.”
Though the game was tight down the stretch, it began as a one-sided affair in favor of Syracuse, as the Orange opened up a 4-2 lead after one quarter by outshooting the Red, 12-4. The first goal of the game was scored by Orange midfielder Steven Brooks off a feed from Jarett Park 1:18 into the game. Park went on to tally the game’s second goal, as he scooped up a ground ball and fired past Red sophomore goaltender Matt McMonagle with 11:09 left in the first quarter. Both Park and Brooks finished with four points on the game — Park notched a goal and three assists, while Brooks had three goals and an assist.
Then, with 9:26 left in the first frame, Boulukos, who said “the Carrier Dome was [his] favorite place to play,” started his attack on the Syracuse defense. Using a strong dodge to beat the defender, he fired the ball past Orange goalie Jay Pfeifer from eight yards out to put the Red on the board.
“We didn’t do a good enough job of understanding Boulukos,” said Syracuse head coach John Desko. “He had too many opportunities in the first half and we didn’t step up and make him work a little harder.”
Syracuse matched what would be its biggest lead of the game with two straight goals — one by attacker Brett Bucktooth on an assist from Park, and the next by Brooks — to make the score 4-1 with 3:07 left in the first frame.
The Red ended the quarter on a high note, as junior Derek Haswell tallied the first of his four goals after senior co-captain Kyle Georgalas raced down the field from the defensive end to feed him for the score. The assist was Georgalas’ first point of the season.
In the second quarter, the Red picked up its intensity, but Syracuse matched it goal for goal. The Orange started the scoring with a Brooks goal on an assist from Greg Rommel on a man-advantage situation. Boulukos answered back with an unassisted tally just under three minutes into the quarter, but the Orange went back up by three on a Park to Bucktooth goal right off the faceoff just seven seconds later.
Faceoffs were one of the Red’s weak points on the game, as Boulukos, freshman John Glynn, and the Red’s regular faceoff man, senior J.D. Nelson, combined to win just 10-of-33 on the game.
Cornell made up for this with great individual efforts like the one Glynn made to score the next Red goal, as he scooped up a ground ball and hit a wraparound bouncer for his first career goal.
After Bucktooth assisted attacker Mike Leveille on the first of his four goals for the Orange, the Red went on the offensive, scoring eight of the next 10 goals.
“I thought the momentum started to slip from us to them in the second period,” Desko said. Tambroni attributed this momentum shift to his main offensive threats.
“I thought that tonight we went to our horses early and often,” he said. “We pretty much went to the ‘Boulukos offense’ in the second and third quarters.”
The first goal in the Cornell run was another unassisted goal from Boulukos, as he fired a quick shot from the left side. The next came from senior Sean Greenhalgh, who fired a shot from a tough angle that snuck into the net, off a feed from Boulukos.
After a Rommel goal put Syracuse back up by two, the Red pulled off an improbable feat by scoring a pair of goals in the final 11 seconds of the half.
After sophomore Brian Clayton fed Boulukos for his fourth goal of the game, junior Mike Pisco got a ground ball off the ensuing faceoff and fired a long pass to senior Kevin Nee, who scored with just one second left on the clock.
“That certainly didn’t help anything,” Desko said. “Instead of going with a lead into halftime, going out with an advantage, we go in even.”
“You could just feel the momentum behind our bench,” he said. “Our guys were just extremely excited and I think that continued going in and then coming back out of the locker room. That was a huge momentum turnaround for us.”
Indeed, the Red started the second half much as the first ended –with two straight goals — to take its first lead of the game, which it would hold onto for the win.
The goals were both unassisted tallies — the first by Haswell and the second from Boulukos — before Bucktooth, who had two goals and three assists in the game, fed Brian Crockett to give the Orange its first goal in just under five minute of play dating back to the first half.
Cornell answered back with another two-goal run on a Clayton to Haswell tally and Greenhalgh’s second goal of the game to give the Red its biggest lead of the game at 12-9. But Syracuse wasn’t done. Crockett and Leveille each notched scores to close out the third quarter, and Leveille began the fourth with another goal, with an assist going to Brooks, to tie the game at 12.
A Greenhalgh to Haswell goal was followed by a goal from Rommel for the Orange, and Boulukos’ sixth goal followed by Leveille’s fourth and final goal off a feed from Bucktooth evened the score at 14 with 4:10 left to play.
The eventual game-winner came at 2:30 remaining in the game, as senior Justin Redd notched his first point of the game, an assist to Nee, by running through the heart of the Syracuse defense — something which was figurative of what Cornell did every time the Orange got close in the final minutes.
“I think that [our players] showed a tremendous amount of resilience,” Tambroni said.
The scoring was capped by none other than Boulukos, who fired the dagger with 1:27 to make the score 16-14.
Archived article by Chris Mascaro
Sun Sports Editor