Just as it had last Tuesday, Saturday’s men’s lacrosse game against Dartmouth began under heavy rains. And as it did Tuesday, the Red (8-1, 4-0 Ivy) followed suit as it beat the Green 12-6 on Schoellkopf Field.
Unlike its opening-quarter scoring deluge against Syracuse though, the Red’s offense came out lethargic. Sandwiched between Syracuse and Princeton on the schedule, Dartmouth (5-3, 0-2) might have been overlooked. By the time the opening 15 minutes had elapsed, Cornell found itself on the short end of a 2-0 score against a gritty, opportunistic Dartmouth squad.
Head coach Jeff Tambroni noted the challenge of maintaining the intensity in a game that directly follows the monumental win over Syracuse and directly proceeds the de facto conference title game against defending Ivy League champion Princeton.
“Emotionally, it was probably the most difficult game to get up for. We had a short week of preparation. We had to try to get them back to think about the Ivy League,” he said, noting that the coaching staff accepted some responsibility for the Red’s lackadaisical play in the first quarter.
“When you beat a team like Syracuse there is a lot of stuff that comes with it. It’s very distracting because everyone wants to tell our players how good they are. That can be dangerous, because we are still who we are. We are preparing the same way and playing the same way,” Tambroni continued.
Though the Red didn’t resume it’s form from Tuesday, Cornell was able to regain the momentum into the second quarter, scoring three goals in just over five minutes to take its first lead of the game. The Red would never relinquish its advantage.
Freshman standout Justin Redd opened the scoring for the Red at 1:50 into the second stanza. Junior middie J.P. Schalk fed the ball to Redd who snapped a shot from 15 yards out. The ball sailed right under the left arm of Dartmouth goalkeeper Mike Gault.
Senior Galen Beers continued the Cornell offensive assault scoring twice in the next four minutes; his first goal a mirror image of Redd’s. Entering the season as the returning leading scorer, Beers has not been able to equal his numbers from last year.
“It has been a struggle this season personally. It felt good to finally put the shot in the cage,” he said.
Midway through the quarter, senior Billy Fort picked off an errant clearing attempt and with the aid of some crafty stick work was able to beat Gault for a 4-2 lead.
The Red finally had some breathing room going into the half and was able to speed up the pace of the game after the Green tried to slow it down.
“They wanted to slow down the game a little bit,” reasoned sophomore Tim DeBlois. “I think they saw the offensive fire power we displayed against Syracuse. I think they realized they needed to keep the ball in their half to prevent us from scoring goals.”
After goals by Brandon Wright and Ben Grinell allowed Dartmouth to close the gap to 5-4 by halftime, the Red found its rhythm in the second half.
Just four days after capturing the record for goal in a game for a freshman, rookie Sean Greenhalgh wrote his name in the history books once again. With his five-goal effort Saturday, he now has 32 goals on the season, surpassing the single-seaon scoring record for a freshman. It was formerly held by Matt Wise, who scored 29 goals in 1995.
“Personal accolades are great. It’s something I will look back on. But right now I just want to concentrate on the team and winning an Ivy League title,” Greenhalgh said after the game.
Greenhalgh’s second score of the day was the most crucial. It came at the 11:17 mark of the third quarter with Dartmouth’s Doug Carr sidelined for unnecessary roughness. Man-up specialist junior Ben Spoonhower was credited with the assist. The goal gave Cornell its biggest lead to that point, 8-5.
“The remarkable thing about Sean Greenhalgh is that he goes out and score six on Tuesday and comes back and plays the way he did today. I think we can all learn something from his composure,” a visibly proud Tambroni praised.
Though by no means dominating, Cornell continued to win the battle of statistics. Led by seven each from Greenhalgh and senior face off specialist Addison Sollog, the Red picked up 32 ground balls to the Green’s 24. Despite a modest showing in the first half, Sollog took control of the draws in the final 30 minutes, allowing the Red the time of possession advantage it lacked in the opening half.
“As much as I love playing defense, I rather watch our offense putting up goals and winning the game. I think one of the big differences was Addison’s play in the second half. It was pure possession time. With the game last Tuesday and a rough first half it was a big help for [the defense] and our team,” DeBlois observed.
However, Cornell continued to have trouble with the man advantage, going a one-for-four on the day. Dartmouth converted on both of its opportunities.
“I’m not satisfied with it,” Tambroni said of the extra-man unit. “It certainly is an area that we need to work on. If we expect to be in the game this Saturday, we need to capitalize on those opportunities.”
Indeed, Saturday’s impending show down with the Tigers is now foremost in the minds of both the coaching staff and the players.
Said Beers, “This is the game you look forward to. This is the game you come to Cornell to play. You come here to win an Ivy League championship.”
Indeed, the team’s ninth-straight win guarantees Cornell control of its destiny in Ivy League play. If the Red is able to defeat both juggernaut Princeton and up-and-coming Brown, it will take the Ancient Eight crown along with the coveted automatic bid to the NCAA tournament.
Archived article by Gary Schueller