If you had been running very late for the men’s lacrosse game this past Saturday, and had only made it to the stadium in time for the last five minutes, it still would have been worth the effort. It would have been worth it because you would still have gotten to watch as Harvard scored the potential winning goal with the end of the fourth quarter on the near horizon, only to have sophomore attackman Rob Pannell tie –– and then steal –– the win back for the home team with a goal 11 seconds from the final whistle. It was an eight-point day for Pannell, who led the No. 12 Red (8-2 overall, 3-1 Ivy) to its eighth win of the season, 13-12, over the No. 18 Crimson (5-4 overall, 1-2 Ivy). It was a much-needed win for Cornell, which was coming off a disappointing upset loss last weekend to Dartmouth.
“We knew they were a good team,” Pannell said. “They’re someone that anyone could lose to on any given day.”
In a game that featured several lead changes and corresponding offensive runs, Cornell came out very strong in the first quarter. After trading goals in the first couple of minutes, the Red went on a four-goal tear to go up 5-1.
“We got off to a great start in the first quarter,” Pannell said. Pannell was involved in three of those four tallies, earning a goal and two assists. The quarter ended with two unanswered goals from the Crimson.
In the second quarter the pace slowed a little bit, with both teams trading points before a Red two-point run gave the home club a 6-4 lead heading into the locker room.
Although Cornell continued its scoring run into the third quarter, Harvard refused to be backed into a corner and scored the next four goals to take its first lead of the game, 8-7, to close out the third quarter.
“I definitely noticed it was a game of runs,” said senior midfielder Austin Boykin. “Unfortunately we weren’t doing everything we could to prevent it.”
Spearheading the Red’s offensive counterattack to begin the final quarter was Pannell again, assisting three goals as Cornell surged back to take a 11-8 lead with just under six minutes left in regulation. Junior midfielder David Lau scored twice for the Red as well, also earning an assist on a goal scored by senior attackman Chris Ritchie.
Harvard won the next face off to trigger a palpable shift in momentum as the Crimson grabbed the lead back after scoring four unanswered goals in 2:45.
After Harvard scored that 12th goal, it became a now-or-never situation, Pannell said. “At that point I knew we needed something to happen to shift the game,” he said.
With the match on the line, the Red managed to keep its cool, however, and use the Crimson's goal as a motivational tool, Boykin said.
“[The goal] was kind of a wake up call,” Boykin said. “We had a couple of minutes left, and in the game of lacrosse that's an eternity. We knew we needed to really pick it up, and finish off the game right.”
Throughout the game, the Red was aided by a raucous and supporting bench. This was in marked contrast to the Harvard bench, which was far quieter on its side of the field. The Red's enthusiasm was no coincidence, according to Pannell.
“We were [talking about] that all week –– being a better team, a closer group, more of a family. Our team came out with a great energy on and off the sidelines. I think it was a major part of our win.”
Needing to gain possession, freshman attackman Ross Gillum managed to win the crucial face-off, which he passed ahead to the streaking Pannell. Pannell took the ball and took a high shot unassisted that bounced and hit the bar before tying the game, 12-12.
Another crucial face-off was won by Boykin, but it was sophomore midfielder Roy Lang's interception of a Harvard pass that set up Pannell's last-second game-winner.
Senior attackman Ryan Hurley, Lau and junior midfielder Jon Thomson each scored two goals in the win, with Ritchie, Lang, junior midfielder Jack Dudley and Gillum adding one each as well. In goal, junior Mat Martinez made six saves in his first career start and his first complete game. Cornell outshot its opponents, 47-27, and held the lead in ground balls, 30-26, while Harvard held the slight lead in face-offs, earning 15-of-27.
The Red will have a short rest period before charging back into action against inter-state rival Syracuse on Tuesday.