In a matchup between a high-powered offense and a strong defense, the latter came out victorious in the men’s lacrosse team’s game against Army on Saturday, as the Red fell to the Black Knights, 11-9.
The loss was the first on the season for Cornell (2-1) in a game against Army (2-2) that featured another solid performance by junior attackman Rob Pannell, who finished with three goals and a game-high 13 shots — nine of which were on goal. Freshman attackman Cody Bremner added two more goals to propel the Red’s offensive attack; however, the day belonged to All-American Army senior goalkeeper Tom Palesky, who finished with 17 saves on the afternoon.
“They played really well and Tom Palesky was a large part of that,” Pannell said.
After racking up 14 goals against the Black Knights in a second round blowout win in the 2010 NCAA tournament, Cornell was unable to find the same consistent offensive rhythm throughout this game. While Cornell was able to put 26-of-42 shots on goal, only nine of those found the back of Palesky’s well-guarded net.
“They played tremendously hard,” said junior attackman Scott Austin. “We didn’t have our best shooting performance [on Saturday], but their goalies came up with some great saves. The effort was there, but we didn’t execute as well as we hoped to.”
“It seemed like we generated a lot of shots … but to his credit and to our fault we weren’t able to put as many on the cage as we wanted to,” Pannell said. “In my opinion, he’s one of the better goalies in the country.”
The first half of the contest remained close throughout, with the two squads trading scores and going into halftime tied, 6-6. In the third period, however, Army took over, netting five points to Cornell’s one.
“It seemed like we were trying to get one quick and not taking our time. They were able to capitalize on opportunities,” Pannell said, adding that the turnover issues in the third quarter were another crucial factor that resulted in the Red’s demise.
Although the Red stepped up in the final quarter, holding Army scoreless for the final 16 minutes of play, the defensive stand would not be enough for Cornell to even the score.
“I just think, offensively, having a little more discipline and taking our time and [being] organized is what will help us,” Pannell said.
The Red will look to do just that and right the ship when the team welcomes Canisius to Schoellkopf Field on Wednesday for a 4 p.m. home game against. Canisius has struggled in the early goings of the season, having lost its first three games of the year.
The Griffins were blown out on the road against Bucknell to open the season on Feb. 19, 17-2. Since that loss Canisius has improved its defensive play significantly, and has seen improved performance in its games against Harvard and Binghamton. Canisius nearly escaped Cambridge, Mass. with a win over the Crimson on Feb. 26, but ultimately fell to Harvard, 9-7. In their most recent game, against the Bearcats, the Griffins suffered another loss at home, 11-7.
With this most recent loss to Army in mind, the Red had no intentions of taking its next game lightly.
“I don’t think you can look at them like a weaker squad,” Pannell said. “We have to take every opponent like they’re the number one team in country.”
“We prepare for every team the same [way] and expect them to come out firing,” Austin said. “Were going to have to practice hard this week and correct some of the mistakes we keep having.”
Senior attackman Greg Michael leads the Canisius offense with three goals and six points overall. Junior midfielder Brendan O’Hagan has been active on the offensive end as well, and leads the team with 11 shots.
Junior Sean Callahan, the starting goalkeeper for the Griffins, has struggled somewhat this year, but has performed better in the two most recent contests. He enters Wednesday’s matchup averaging 12 goals-allowed per game to go along with 22 saves per contest.
The team knows that to maintain its high ranking and to continue picking up wins, it will need contributions from the entire roster.
“I think what a lot of teams are going to start doing is making a lot of other people step up,” Pannell said. “If you can take a few guys and take the balls out of their sticks … I think that’s what the other teams are going to try and do. We’re prepared for that.”