In a game which conversely reflected its win against Notre Dame a weekend ago, the No. 6 Cornell men’s lacrosse team (1-1) made a late fourth-quarter rally before falling to No. 15 Army (2-1), 11-9, at West Point on Saturday afternoon.
The Red, which was led by a three-goal performance from senior attackman Kevin Nee, had a difficult hill to climb as the Black Knights went on a 7-1 run going into halftime. In its season opener against the Fighting Irish, Cornell held Notre Dame scoreless for almost 30 minutes, while scoring seven unanswered goals. However, the team’s trip to West Point was a different story.
“I didn’t feel like we played that well,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “Other than just maybe a couple of minutes here in the first half and a couple of minutes there in the second half, I didn’t think we played as a team and that was the bottom line.”
Army was paced by the efforts of Jim Wagner and John Walker, who combined for 11 points off six goals and five assists on the day. Four other Black Knights found themselves on the scoring sheet as well.
“Those are the two guys we knew we had to do a good job of containing, and we didn’t,” Tambroni said.
Cornell started the game strong, as a pass from junior Joe Boulukos found senior attackman Sean Greenhalgh, who scored to give the Red the first goal of the game.
Both teams traded goals with Red sophomore Brian Clayton finding the back of the cage, while Army’s Walker and Brian Green replied for the home team. However, Cornell was able to go two-up on Army, as a Boulukos bouncing shot from 15 yards and a Nee tally from close range gave the Red a 4-2 lead.
However, prior to the end of the first quarter, the complexion of the game started to change. After a goal by Army’s Mike Obringer cut the deficit to one, Wagner scored his first goal of the game with a screamer from the left side to the top right corner to tie to score at four after one.
In terms of scoring, Army dominated the second quarter. After goals were exchanged by Wagner and Nee, the Black Knights scored four straight goals with two tallies by Wagner and scores by Justin Bokmeyer and Matt Scheel. Army’s 7-1 run over the first two periods gave the hosts a 9-5 advantage at the half.
“We just didn’t do the little things [during Army’s rally],” Tambroni said. “I don’t think Army really took over the game … They were getting easy looks at our goal, or when they were getting 10, 15-yard shots, they were capitalizing on them as well.”
Determined to get back in the game, Boulukos scored from the left side off a pass from senior Justin Redd at the beginning of the third quarter, giving the Red its first goal in 21 minutes to make it 9-6. Redd had three assists on the day.
While Army again scored through Larsen with 3:27 left in the third, Greenhalgh set the tone for what would be an exciting final period when his 10-yard shot from the right side went inside the far pipe, again cutting the lead to three.
Cornell’s comeback continued early in the fourth quarter when Clayton scored on the run from the left side for his second goal of the game. Nee cut Army’s lead to one with less than 10 minutes remaining, after finding the back of the cage under heavy traffic.
Unfortunately for the Red, it was unable to find the game-tying goal. With two minutes left in the game, Cornell collected a loose ball off an Army shot, but turned it over, trying to clear. Army turned the ball over again with a little more than one minute left in the game, but Cornell subsequently gave possession back to the Black Knights.
Army put the nail in Cornell’s coffin with 13 seconds left in regulation. After the Red forced a turnover, sophomore goalkeeper Mike McMonagle’s attempt to clear was intercepted by Walker, who shot and scored his second goal of the game.
Even with Cornell not playing relatively well, Tambroni said that he felt his team still had a chance to steal the game, but they could not make the big play.
The Black Knights had a 42-36 advantage in ground balls and won 16 of 24 faceoffs. And although Cornell outshot Army 51-30, Tambroni said that Army was a little bit more intelligent with its shot selection.
“I felt like we put ourselves in a position to win,” he said. “When it ended, it was a tough loss. I felt like we let one slip away. We were very disappointed with ourselves … but Army deserved to win because they did all of the little things to be successful.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor