April 29, 2002

Brown Comes Back to Drop M. Lax in O.T.

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Usually when the men’s lacrosse team outshoots, out-groundballs and wins the majority of faceoffs against an opponent, it also outscores it. Saturday afternoon, the No. 7 Red (9-2, 4-2 Ivy) continued to dominate all the statistical categories against No. 20 Brown (7-6, 4-1) except the one that counted most — the final score.

Down 8-4 in the fourth quarter, the Bears scored five unanswered goals including the game winner in double overtime to end Cornell’s hopes of an Ivy title and the prospect of a bid to the NCAA tournament. Chas Gessner, who burned the Cornell football team for 113 receiving yards and two touchdowns the last time he visited Schoellkopf, had a hand in the Bears’ last four goals. Both the game-tying and game-winning goals were unassisted Gessner tallies.

However, it was Brown’s goalie, Mike Levin, who kept the Bears in the game from an early point. Cornell peppered Levin with 12 shots — the Bears only mustered one — and picked up twice the amount of groundballs, but neither team found the back of the cage at the end of the first 15 minutes.

“We generated lots of shots, and they were on the cage,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said, suggesting that the team may have been shooting to Levin’s strength.

However, the team didn’t have a sense of urgency, as Cornell controlled the tempo for most of the quarter.

“At the time it was 0-0,” said junior tri-captain Ryan McClay. “Looking back, right after the game, you lose by one goal in overtime, you kind of wish you had some of those [shots] back.”

As the second quarter started, Cornell’s shots began to fall. Senior attackman Scott Lee scored first three minutes into the quarter, and freshman Justin Redd followed suit 40 seconds later. Senior Galen Beers added his 15th goal of the season as he bounced a shot over Levin, and classmate Billy Fort ended Cornell’s four-goal run with 2:20 left in the half. All first four goals were unassisted.

Brown began chipping away at the Cornell defense before halftime when Jonathon Thompson connected with Michael Hughes.

Cornell and Brown alternated goals three times to start the second half. Brown brought the goal deficit within two three times, but each time Cornell answered back, keeping the Bears at bay for the moment. Redd added the Red’s eighth goal when classmate Sean Greenhalgh found him 15 yards outside the crease.

“Every time we were up three goals, they would score a goal to make it close. We just couldn’t finish them off. We had the opportunities, but we couldn’t capitalize,” said McClay.

Greenhalgh, who leads the team in goals did not score on his two shots, as he was tightly guarded all game.

The Red hadn’t relinquished a four-goal lead thus far this season. But last year, Brown forced an overtime period after down 7-2, to win 9-8, 19 seconds into the extra period. And as the Cornell defense concentrated on shutting down Jimmy Mormile, who didn’t have any points, Gessner was left alone against junior shortstickman Frank Sands, who at 6-1 is one of the larger defensemen on the Red. Still, the 6-5 Gessner was too much to handle and almost single-handedly staged the Bears’ comeback.

“We tried to shut [Gessner] off a little bit so he wouldn’t get the ball. But you really have to pick your poison on who you want to put your pole on,” explained head coach Jeff Tambroni. “Are you going to put your pole on Mormile, or are you going to put your pole on Gessner in the midfield? And Mormile is clearly their better player.”

“We were doubling [Mormile] every time he got the ball, trying to neutralize him. I know he didn’t have any shots on the day, that was good, but 14, [Gessner] …” McClay said of the decision to halt Mormile instead of Gessner.

Following Saturday’s game, Cornell retired Eamon McEneaney’s ’77 jersey. Former lacrosse players, friends and family were on hand to witness the ceremony, many of them wearing red t-shirts with the number 10, McEneaney’s number at Cornell. Teammate Mike French ’76, Athletic Director Andy Noel, Bonnie McEneaney, and Richie Moran all spoke on behalf of McEneaney, who died in the World Trade Center attacks on Sept. 11. In addition, Jennifer McEneaney, 9, read a poem she wrote about her father and Kevin McEneaney, 6, read a prayer.

McEneaney’s influence has spread to the lacrosse team, which dedicated all of its home games to one of its most famous alumni by gathering around his number on Schoellkopf before every home game.

“Eamon was extremely unselfish, hardworking, dedicated to the game. He highlights all the things we want to do,” Sands said.

Moran, the Cornell lacrosse coach from 1969-97, retired the jersey, but not before all his teammates present touched it.

“It’s pretty special,” McClay said of participating in the ceremony. “We kind of wanted to get this one for him and his family.”

Archived article by Amanda Angel