A year ago, it took an overtime period for the men’s lacrosse team to take down Colgate at home. This season, it looked as though the battle between upstate rivals would again be heading to an extra period.
But freshman attackman Zach Ward was not about to let that happen.
Ward’s buzzer-beating goal broke a 5-5 tie betweeen the two teams, sending Cornell (3-2, 0-0 Ivy) to its second consecutive victory. Senior attackman John Edmonds came around from behind the goal and was shut down defensively by Colgate. After almost losing his balance, Edmonds found Ward on the crease who took a step around a Colgate defensive and fired the ball into the top of goal.
“We set up a play to try to get John Edmonds looking for [freshman attackman] Colton Rupp inside and it got covered up,” said head coach Matt Kerwick.
Kerwick praised the effort from Ward who, in his second career game, notched his first two career goals.
“It was pretty impressive for a freshman to do that,” Kerwick said of Ward’s two-goal performance. “He’s really progressed considering he’s only started two games.”
Colgate got on the board first with a goal five minutes into the game. The rest of the first period was scoreless, as Cornell was unable to convert on any of the seven shots the team launched in the quarter.
The Red ended its scoring drought in the second quarter when freshman midfielder Clarke Petterson netted his third career goal on a feed from fellow freshman midfielder Ryan Bray.
Later in the period, Cornell took the lead off a goal from senior midfielder Emmy Poccia with three minutes to play in the half. Poccia’s shot was assisted by Edmonds, who Kerwick said has been “getting better every week” as a distributor on offense.
“John is a complete player for us,” Kerwick said. “He rides well, he starts a lot of our offense and when it does end up in a goal, sometimes he was two passes before that because he draws a lot of attention. Teams are really keying in on him and sliding to him quickly and he’s developing as a feeder now.
Cornell added to its lead when sophomore midfielder Jack Bolen scored with just over one minute left in the first half. The goal came in transition, one of the main areas that the Red has been trying to improve upon, according to Kerwick.
“Our transition game is improving greatly,” Kerwick said. “We’ve emphasized it and done a lot of it in practice the last two weeks in particular. We want to be able to create in transition.”
After taking a 3-1 lead into the half, the Red ceded a quick Colgate goal in the third period. But Cornell would bounce back with two more of its own, both coming from freshmen: Ward’s first career goal and Bray’s fourth.
Using a solid defense, the Raiders shut down Cornell for the next 23 minutes of play, going on a 3-0 run to tie up the game.
Colgate had the ball with 2:11 left in the game, but senior goalie Brennan Donville was able to save a shot from Raiders’ midfielder Tyler Riga, putting Cornell back on offense.
“Brennan has been incredible the last two games,” Kerwick said. “He’s really comfortable out there, seeing the ball well. The defense is giving him the shots he likes to see.”
Cornell’s Ivy League schedule begins on Saturday when No. 4 Yale comes to Ithaca. The Bulldogs are still undefeated through five games, boasting the nation’s top defense. Kerwick compared Yale’s defense to Colgate’s, calling it a “very tight defensive group.”
“They’re a very system oriented team,” Kerwick said of Yale. “They’re very fundamental offensively. They stick to their patterns very well and take the shots they want to take.”
Led by attackman Ben Reeves, the Bulldogs’ offense is averaging 12.4 goals per game compared with Cornell’s 9.0 per game. Reeves has already tallied 13 goals on the season to go along with his 12 assists.
Last year, the Red also opened its in-conference portion of the season against the Bulldogs, pulling off a dominant 14-7 victory.
“We moved the ball really well last year,” Kerwick said. “We had a lot of assisted goals. Defensively, we played outstandingly against a very good offensive group.”
Play starts at 1 p.m. at Schoellkopf.