Despite a six-goal effort from sophomore attack Sean Greenhalgh, most of the post-game talk was about who didn’t score during the men’s lacrosse team’s 13-7 win over Penn Saturday afternoon.
“We knew coming into the game that Penn had a very deliberate offense,” said junior defenseman Tim DeBlois. “We knew that No. 28 and Kopicki were their big guns.”
The No. 15 Red (5-2, 2-0 Ivy) limited Penn (4-3, 1-1) to just two first-half goals during the win over the No. 20 Quakers. Beyond this, Cornell also accomplished one of its biggest pre-game goals — shutting down Penn’s all-star midfielder, Alex Kopicki.
“I think collectively those guys did a great job defensively of just knowing where he was and getting a stick to his glove,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “He’s probably one of the most dangerous middies, if not the most dangerous middie, we’ve faced to date. I thought our guys did a good job of just containing him, and I think the shots that he did get we could give up again.”
The Red drew first blood off of a Greenhalgh goal just two minutes and four seconds into the game. The sophomore didn’t stop there, however, netting two more goals before the period was over. Junior attack Dave Pittard scored Cornell’s fourth goal before Penn even had a chance to respond.
Still, Penn was able to respond in spurts, scoring two goals in the last two minutes of the first period. They were the only Quaker goals of the half, despite the fact that Penn controlled possession of the ball for the first 30 minutes. Cornell, however, made the most of its shot opportunities and added three more points to the scoreboard before the second half. Afterwards, DeBlois spoke of the impact the first half offensive performance.
“Getting those goals early really helps a lot with a team against Penn because they can’t hold onto the ball,” he said. “If they get up early, they’ll stall the ball with their offense the whole time, and make a lot of stress on our defense.”
Penn did exactly that during the second half, slowing down its offense and taking only 15 shots. The Quakers slowly worked against the Cornell defense, eventually finding their rhythm during the fourth period. By that time, however, it was too late, as the Cornell offense exploded for another six goals.
Greenhalgh recorded his fifth and sixth goals during the Cornell run. His fifth goal of the afternoon was an empty-netter that started the fourth period.
The play started as senior defenseman Ryan McClay picked off a Penn pass. Cornell then began to settle into its offensive system, but soon lost possession. In an amazing display of athleticism, junior attack Andrew Collins broke up the Penn clear, but lost sight of the ball. Greenhalgh scooped up the loose ball and fired, finding the twine for his fifth goal in as many shots. Still, he was modest of his performance, giving much of the credit to his teammates.
“I think we’ve just been really working on our riding as much as we can,” said Greenhalgh. “Andrew just laid the goalie down, had a great check. All I had to do was pick it up and throw it in the empty net. It was the effort from Collins that just makes the goal look so easy.”
Cornell ended the game with more ground balls, clears and saves than Penn. Still, the stat that players and coaches alike were most impressed with was the man-up situation. Cornell fought off all but one of Penn’s six opportunities.
“We always try to limit, try to go into the game two or three, but today we had six or seven,” said DeBlois of Cornell’s penalties. “We were talking well, we were rotating well, we were filling. We were playing with five when they had six and I thought we did a good job.”
Tambroni echoed the defenseman’s sentiments.
“It’s one of our weaknesses to date,” he noted. “I thought today we were one for six, and the shots we were giving up were in the right locations on the field. I think if I look at our defensive end, and look at the one highlight, it would probably be our man-down.”
The Red coach also spoke of the team’s recent offensive changes, particularly its sniper-like percision.
“I was surprised that we took so few shots,” said Tambroni. “I think they’ve made a commitment to shooting, and I think they’ve also made commitment to getting people into better positions to shoot. Our guys have really paid attention to detail when we’ve gone over the goalie reports.
“We’ve got the same shooters today that we had four weeks ago, but I think the bottom line is that they’ve had better shot opportunities.”
Archived article by Matt Janiga