The men’s lacrosse team put an exclamation point on a weekend meant to highlight the history and tradition of Cornell lacrosse by claiming a share of its fourth consecutive Ivy League title and a bid to the NCAA national tournament with a 10-6 win over Brown on Schoellkopf Field Saturday.
For senior captains Joe Boulukos and Cam Marchant and classmates Dave Bush, Derek Haswell, Kyle Miller and Mike Pisco, Saturday’s game might have been their last in a Cornell uniform on Schoellkopf Field. For the members of the Cornell national championship squads of ’71 and ’76, Saturday was a day to remember their accomplishments. And for all those touched by the passing of George Boiardi ’04, the game was a perfect preamble to yesterday’s 21 Run in his honor.
All three worlds came crashing together in Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game, united by their common ties to the program. Coaches and players alike wore Boiardi’s No. 21 under their shirts as two of Cornell’s three national championship teams watched from the stands.
“We were able to … grind out a win, and I think that’s what this team is all about – finding a way to win,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “With the group that we have as seniors, I think that’s more of their mantra than going out there and being slick up and down the field.”
“There was a little bit of nerves, I think, before the game honoring the ’71 and ’76 national championship teams. A lot of alumni coming back, it’s senior day – a lot of, as coach said, a lot of distractions, but they’re good distractions,” Marchant said.
It was only fitting, then, that one of the Red’s senior co-captains lead the team to victory. Boulukos led all scorers with two goals and two assists, and as he has done all season, came through with big plays in critical situations. Boulukos’ two goals tied him for 12th place on the Cornell career goal-scoring list, and his four points moved him up to 21st all-time in program history.
Rookie Max Seiblad had one goal and two assists for the Red (10-2, 5-1 Ivy), junior David Mitchell and freshman Rocco Romero scored two goals each, and junior Eric Pittard had one goal and one assist in the winning effort.
Alex Buckley’s two goals and one assist paced the Bears (2-10, 0-5). Brown was also led by its top-2 leading scorers on the season, with David Madeira scoring two goals and Will McGettigan matching that feat.
“I think the key today was our six seniors, with all the distractions we were talking about, we just used them as positive energy and [they] just showed us the way,” said junior goaltender Matt McMonagle. “Cam had a huge ground ball in the fourth quarter, Joey had a huge goal in the fourth quarter there that just put us over the edge.”
McMonagle finished with 12 saves for the Red, while Nick Gentilesco notched 15 stops in net for the Bears.
The game got off to an auspicious start when Boulukos won the opening face off, picked up the bouncing ball and raced downfield, passing the ball to Pittard. The junior double pumped and slotted the ball over the Brown goaltender for the quickest goal of the season for the Red, setting off a wild cheer from the crowd. Boulukos’s play set the tone of the game, as the Red would outshoot the Bears, 45-29, and pick up 33 ground balls to the Bears’ 21.
Riding the emotion, the Red struck again three minutes later on a 15-yard shot by Romero with 11 minutes left in the quarter.
But Brown responded through Buckley less than 15 seconds later. The attacker bounced a 15-yard shot in front of McMonagle and into the net, and then with 8:50 left in the first, Madeira would even the contest at two.
Boulukos killed off the Bears’ momentum, however, spinning around his defender and firing a shot that was kick-saved by Brown goaltender Nick Gentilesco. The ball bounced right to a wide-open Mitchell, who scooped it up and deposited his shot into the open net with 4:16 remaining in the quarter, breaking the deadlock.
The Bears had lengths of possession in the second quarter and would have scored if not for some spectacular saves by McMonagle. Although the Red’s defense was solid, its offense was shaky at times. Erratic passes and shots plagued the Red throughout the middle periods of the game, though the Red was still able to outscore the Bears, 2-1, during that span.
“I think we were moving the ball well at times and then sometimes we kind of fell back into the old habit of just one guy dodging and everyone standing still,” Boulukos said. “I think if the offensive guys just keep grinding, and the defensive guys just keep doing as good as they are in getting us the ball and creating transition for us, I think the ball is going to start falling again for us.”
Riding a 5-3 advantage into the fourth, a frantic six-goal quarter ensued. An energized Cornell defense forced six Brown turnovers in the quarter, and the Red began running the counterattack for the first time. A series of sharp, quick passes led to a goal at 12:50 by Haswell, assisted by Seibald, to double-up the Bears.
A double-penalty by Buckley with 11:19 remaining gave Cornell the advantage for three minutes, and with 10:11 remaining in the game, Boulukos rifled a shot through the legs of Gentilesco from 15 yards out. The goal would prove to be the game-winner, but Brown would not go down without a fight.
“When they come down to us, it’s always a battle, and when we come up here. … Every single week you really never know what you’re going to get,” Brown’s long pole Jimmy Faello said. “You know, you can’t really look at one play here or there to really decide a game, since I think there’s a lot of things both ways – little factors – that really determined everything throughout the game.”
Despite being down a man, McGettigan took the team on his back, scoring two quick goals. First, he cut the score to 7-4 when he scored off a rebound from Buckley’s shot with 8:55 left, and then he scored again less than one minute later.
Mitchell would respond with a tally of his own only 50 seconds later to make the score 8-5. But Brown would score soon after, this time with a cannonading shot by Buckley from 25 yards out.
Brown became desperate with the score 8-6 and only a four minutes remaining, but Boulukos iced the victory. After a series of shots and a scramble to the ball, junior Brian Clayton picked it up and fed the co-captain, who fired a shot from 20 yards out above the goalkeeper.
Archived article by Josh Perlin
Sun Assistant Sports Editor