Junior netminder Justin Cynar’s most important save was his first save of the game. Harvard (4-3, 0-2 Ivy) won the opening faceoff and managed to penetrate Cornell’s defense thereby launching the ball at Cynar’s ankles. The All-American caught a piece of the rubber with his foot, and the ball bounced harmlessly over the lacrosse cage.
Cornell (5-2, 3-0 Ivy) was able to acquire possession after the botched Crimson scoring attempt. Senior tri-captain Drew Schart passed to classmate David Key, who broke the only tie of the game, putting Cornell ahead 1-0 with just over 59 minutes to go.
“I thought that [the first save] gave us the momentum and confidence to go off on a stretch of our own,” head coach Jeff Tambroni praised.
No. 14 Cornell extended its winning streak to three games, and along with Princeton, is undefeated in conference games after Saturday’s 16-3 routing of Harvard.
Harvard came into the game off an upset of then No. 11 Duke that saw the Crimson climbing in the national polls. Goaltender, Jake McKenna was awarded Ivy League Rookie of the week honors as he kept the Blue Devils to six goals.
In its most satisfying win of the season, the Red finally mounted a full game effort against up-and-coming Harvard. Led by Key, who had seven goals and two assists, Cornell spread its scoring over all four quarters and never allowed the Crimson to muster a comeback.
“Coach has been talking all year about putting a full 60 minutes together, and we hadn’t done that all season. And today’s the day we did it,” Key said.
As usual the Red jumped out to a first quarter lead, 4-0. It wasn’t until 7:38 into the second period when Dana Sprong beat Cynar on a pass from Roger Buttles decreasing the scoring differential to 8-1.
Normally a seven goal lead would give enough insurance to any team, but not the Red who had seen Yale close a 10-1 gap to a one-goal game.
But that fear was never realized. Cornell ended the first thirty minutes with two consecutive goals sending them into halftime 10-1.
During the break, the men vowed that they wouldn’t see their nine goal lead disappear as it had in previous games.
“Why were these teams coming back against us?” asked junior Galen Beers about the Red’s second half lapses. “That was initiative in itself. No more second half slumps, let’s just get to the end of the game.”
There was no let down after the half as the Red augmented its already commanding lead. Sophomore Frank Sands pushed the Harvard deficit into double-digits 22 seconds into the third quarter. Key found the cage three more times single-handedly scoring as many goals on McKenna as the Duke team did.
The Red attack took advantage of a comprehensive scouting report on the rookie between the pipes who stopped only 10 of 25 shots. He was pulled in favor of Ely Kahn with 10 minutes left. Kahn let in the only shot he faced.
Meanwhile, the defense had its way with the Harvard attack. Senior Brandon Hall held Matt Primm, coming back from an injury, to no points. Contributions from sophomore Ryan McClay added to the steady defense.
“When you come [to Schoellkopf field] you’re facing a bear,” Beers commented. “It felt good to take it to them for four quarters, and as coach would say, ‘Not let them sniff it.'”
Although Cynar faced only 11 shots on the day, he saved nine of them, increasing his save percentage and lowering his goals against average.
But the unparalleled star of the game was Key. The senior, who has taken on much of the scoring burden this year, totaled nine points on seven goals and two assists doubling his Ivy league totals.
“He happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Tambroni explained further, “The move to attack has given him a lot of chances to put the ball in the back of the cage, and he has done that.”
Beers extended his scoring streak to seven games on two goals and an assist. Sophomore Michael Egan had the second highest point total with three goals and an assist.
More importantly for Tambroni was the hustle that went into the Red’s win.
Neither Cornell nor Harvard had lost a game in which it retrieved more than half of the ground balls. The 28 of 46 ground balls that Cornell collected were indicative of the final score. Junior Addison Sollog won 14 of the 23 faceoffs to bolster that number.
“Today was for our team to get off on the right start and continue to grow as the game went on,” Tambroni said.
While the Red put in a full effort in beating the Ivy rival, it is fair to say that part of the game was a test for the highly anticipated contest against national powerhouse Syracuse tomorrow. Last year the Orange suffered its sole loss of the season at Schoellkopf. Tomorrow, Tambroni will lead his men into the Carrier Dome.
“I think this win gives our team confidence [toward Syracuse],” asserted Tambroni.
Archived article by Amanda Angel