By the time junior Billy Fort forced his Goliath-like defender out of bounds with a Herculean check, No. 11 Cornell men’s lacrosse’s (5-3, 3-0 Ivy) game against No. 3 Syracuse’s (6-2) may have been decided, but you couldn’t tell from the hustle and intensity of the men’s lacrosse team’s play.
Cornell fell short of an opportunity to upset national powerhouse Syracuse on back-to-back occasions, coming up on the short-end of a 14-10 count during last night’s match at the Carrier Dome.
The Orange, looking to bounce back from an overtime setback at the hands of No. 10 Loyola last Saturday, drew first blood. Josh Coffman scored his 17th of the season and tallied his first of four goals at the 2:22 mark. It was Coffman’s night as he scored his 100th goal and had a career high points in one game.
Less than a minute later, the home side struck again as Tom Hardy beat Cornell junior netminder Justin Cynar.
The Red had trouble getting started but Fort found senior tri-captain David Key — fresh off a seven goal, nine point effort against Harvard last Saturday — to put the Red on the board four minutes after the Orange’s second goal. Cornell managed to level the game only once, when Fort continued his magnanimous ways, this time connecting with senior Drew Schardt.
Save for the convincing effort of the veteran offensive unit, the Red found itself relatively lucky to be down by just a two goal margin at 5-3 at the conclusion of the first stanza.
Syracuse’s final goal, and perhaps the biggest blow to Cornell came with just one second left in the period. It was Coffman’s second on the night as he came from around the back of the cage to beat Cynar.
The squad went 0-for-9 in the faceoff circle where it usually terrorizes opponents. Despite a gutsy effort from junior faceoff specialist Addison Sollogg, Cornell was simply outclassed by Syracuse’s Chris Cercy, who sits atop the nation in faceoff percentage.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni touted Cercy’s talent but was quick to point to Sollogg’s ability and drive.
“Cercy is the best faceoff man that I’ve ever seen,” he said. “But our guy is one of the best in the country.”
Sollogg was able to right the ship to some degree, switching maneuvers. He gained possession for Cornell on four of his last five opportunities. But that was after Syracuse was all but assured victory. In the end the Orange won nine more faceoffs. Tambroni believed much of the scoring differentials was be attributed to this.
Syracuse expanded its lead in the second period, opening a 7-3 advantage. The deficit was never cut to fewer than two. Just like the first quarter ended with a moral-crushing goal in the final moments, so did the third. Cornell seemed to have gained the momentum as it had shaved the score to 7-5, but Syracuse freshman sensation Mike Powell riffled a shot with just over a minute remaining before the end of the stanza to increase Syracuse hold to five goals.
Last night was the first time in Tambroni’s tenure that the team was out groundballed, with the hosts picking up 39 to the Red’s 30. The first year head coach found this particularly troubling.
“Every three or four groundballs results in a goal,” he explained.
Tambroni was quick to point out that what was lacking was a team effort.
“We performed on an individual basis,” he said.
Senior tri-captain Bobby Werhane shared Tambroni’s sentiment adding, “[Syracuse’s] individuals beat our team.”
The offensive potency of the team against All-American goalie Rob Mulligan and the fourth best defensive squad in the nation showed again that the Red does have a scoring muscle. Key has now scored 11 goals in his last two outings, while junior Galen Beers increased his streak of consecutive games with a goal this season to eight. He found the back of the cage twice.
With its back seemingly against the wall in the fourth quarter, the Red managed to mount a legitimate comeback as a pair of sophomores netted two consecutive goals to bring the team to with in four by the ten minute mark. J.P. Schalk and Michael Egan delighted the large and vocal Cornell contingent with their scoring efforts.
Perhaps bigger than the test it received tonight against its upstate New York rivals, will be how much resiliency the Red is able to display when it travels north to meet Ancient Eight foe Dartmouth this upcoming Saturday. Cornell currently owns a 3-0 mark in Ivy play and a win again the Green would set up a home date with No. 2 Princeton the following weekend, which would seemingly represent the Ivy League title match.
Archived article by Gary Schueller