Saturday was a beautiful day — the sun was shining over Schoellkopf Field, the temperature was in the high 40s and over 3,000 fans came out to support the men’s lacrosse team as it hosted the Harvard Crimson. It was a hard-fought battle for Cornell; however, the No. 5 Red was able to secure the 14-10 victory, despite Harvard’s nine-point second half.
Cornell (8-1, 4-0 Ivy League) struck at 6:33 in the first frame, as junior defender Thomas Keith received a pass from senior midfielder Roy Lang and was able to put it away behind Harvard netminder Jake Gambitsky. The Crimson responded less than two minutes later, tying everything at 1-1. Unassisted, Lang scored the second goal for the Red — his first of three for the day — with under five minutes remaining in play — giving Cornell a lead that it was able to maintain throughout the rest of the game.
“[My] first [goal] was in transition and the coaches gave me the green light in this game to push transitions and I was able to clear the ball and run and attack the defenders,” Lang said. “We got off to a good start; we had another one on the play before where I passed it to Thomas Keith and he made a nice catch.”
Lang was a force to be reckoned with in the midfield for the Red. The senior ended the day with a game-high five points on three goals and two assists. He also won four ground balls, caused two turnovers and headed the almost perfect clearing game, helping the Red finish 22-for-23 for the day. Other players who contributed multiple points to the day’s effort included freshman attack Matt Donovan, senior midfielder J.J. Gilbane and junior midfielder/attack Max Van Bourgondien.
Donovan kicked off the second quarter, scoring an unassisted goal at 3:24 into the frame. Only a minute later, Donovan combined efforts with senior midfielder Mitch McMichael on a one-man advantage. McMichael picked up his third goal of the season, and Donovan notched his 12th assist. With about six minutes left to play, Lang scored his second unassisted goal of the game, with Gilbane following up only a minute later with an assist by Van Bourgondien.
Cornell held Harvard to a scoreless second quarter, leading the Crimson in shots (25), ground balls (15) and clears (11-for-11). Sophomore midfielder Doug Tesoriero won 11-of-20 re-starts in the game, while junior Jason Noble went 0-for-3 and sophomore midfielder Cole McCormack finished 1-for-5. Despite only winning 42 percent of the re-starts, the Red gave a complete effort, according to Gilbane.
“We thought that we played hard and we thought that we played together,” he said. “Through us playing together all over the field — all being on the same page — we were able to put a complete effort on the field and secure a victory against Harvard.”
Harvard rallied after half-time, kicking off a nine-point scoring spree. The Crimson put away five goals in the third quarter, while holding Cornell to just three. Junior Steve Mock, Lang and Van Bourgondien were all unassisted in their goals for the Red. Sophomore goalie Andrew West made three saves in the third, attempting to stave off the Crimson’s comeback.
“Harvard has a lot of talented athletes, so we know we needed to lock [its offense] down,” Lang said. “[Our defense was] aggressive with those guys and [our defenders] were able to help each other out … We stuck to our game plan.”
The defense was not the only end of the field that was executing its game plan for the day, according to Gilbane.“I think that offensively, everyone did their job and we played simple, smart lacrosse,” he said. “[We] hit our assignment and if everyone is on the same page and plays hard, then offensively we are able to produce some great looks at the goal.”
The final frame was an explosion offensively for both teams, as Harvard and Cornell each scored five goals in the last 15 minutes of play. Senior midfielders Chris Langton and Scott Austin, junior attack Connor English, sophomore midfielder Mike O’Neil and Donovan scored the final five goals of the game, with Gilbane and Lang picking up one assist each. Harvard led in shots (24), ground balls (22) and face-off wins (11-of-19) in the second half of the game. The Crimson and Red both finished with 34 grounds balls a piece, with Keith picking up six and Donovan, Lang and junior Mike Bronzino collecting four each. Bronzino also caused two turnovers for the day.
“I thought that Mike Bronzino played a pretty good game with ground balls,” Lang said. “He’s been playing really well all season.”
The win over the Crimson, helped Cornell maintain its position atop the Ivy League, along with Princeton, while Harvard dropped to third. The Red returns to action Tuesday, April 10 at 7 p.m. at home, hosting Syracuse, who Cornell beat, 11-6, last season at the Carrier Dome.