NEW HAVEN, Conn. — While the Red endured a difficult defeat against No. 19 North Carolina last Wednesday, it took an important first step in defending its Ivy League crown on Saturday with a resounding 15-6 win over Yale (3-2, 1-1 Ivy).
Cornell (3-2, 1-0 Ivy) was paced by a four-goal performance from senior attackman Kevin Nee, while junior Derek Haswell added another three scores in the win. Six other Cornell players had goals in the win — the Red’s sixth straight against the Bulldogs.
“This is the start of a new journey. We want the Ivy League championship again and the automatic bid to the tournament. It’s a whole different mentality when you play these games,” said junior Mike Pisco, who scored one of Cornell’s 15 goals. “[On Saturday], we got off on the right foot.”
While Yale started off the game with a 2-1 lead with 7:21 left in the first quarter, senior defenseman Casey Stevenson tied the score up with his first career goal. The Red never relinquished its lead from there.
Nee found the back of the cage late in the first before Haswell swooped in from the left side of the goal to score with 42 seconds remaining in the opening quarter to put the Red up, 4-2.
Cornell and Yale traded four goals to start the second quarter, but the Red maintained much of the control and possession throughout that period, forcing 15 Bulldog turnovers in the first half.
The Red soon found success by breaking through the Yale defense on the break, as Nee helped extend Cornell’s lead to three, when junior Dave Bush found the attackman for his second score of the game. Senior Sean Greenhalgh’s shot past Bulldog goalie George Carafides’ left shoulder gave the Red an 8-4 cushion going into the break.
“I think the one thing we focused on the offensive end was sharing the ball more between everybody and I think we got some better looks to the cage and that ends up in better shots,” Nee said.
The Red continued its suffocating play in the second half with Nee completing a hat trick with a bounce shot from close range off a pass from junior Joe Boulukos with 14:27 left in the third period. Yale found the back of the cage two minutes later, but Haswell answered back with his third goal of the game with a shot from the left side. Sophomore Brian Clayton found the top right corner of the Yale net with 8:28 left in the third to give the Red an 11-5 advantage.
Throughout the game, Cornell’s defense helped the Red keep distance from the hosts, with sophomore Matt McMonagle making key saves, including five in the third quarter, to keep the Red’s lead at six heading into the fourth. The defense held last week’s Ivy League Player of the Week, Seth Goldberg, to two goals, while Bulldogs’ scoring leader Colin Neville added just one score.
“I think our defense took a step in today’s game,” Stevenson said. “We really played together today and that’s something we’ve been struggling to do, but I think we found our groove today and started really playing as a unit rather than as seven different players.”
Senior Justin Redd, Greenhalgh and Nee all added goals in the final quarter, while Yale added a consolation goal in the loss.
“There wasn’t any one point where I felt great about the game,” said Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni. “In these games, you put so much into them and you get so excited about playing them that at that point, you think six goals or seven or eight goals is nothing. I just wanted to make sure that when that clock says 0:00, Cornell was on top — whether it was by a goal or eight goals, it doesn’t matter. I thought throughout the whole game, the guys kept the pace, kept the intensity.”
North Carolina 9, Cornell 5
The Red’s spring break road trip did not start out auspiciously however, as it fell to North Carolina in Chapel Hill, N.C., 9-5, last Wednesday evening. The Tar Heels were led by a six-point performance by senior Jed Prossner, and a defensive effort that held Cornell scoreless for almost two quarters.
Cornell started out strong, with Haswell drawing first blood off an assist from Greenhalgh with 9:08 left in the first quarter before Bush doubled the Red’s lead after finding the back of the net off a fast break early in the second quarter.
But, UNC responded to the Red’s scoring in a big way. Prossner started up the Tar Heels’ rally with a goal at 10:16 left in the second period, before juniors Ryan Blair and Hayward Howard gave UNC the lead. Mike McCall also scored in the second quarter for the Tar Heels, while Prossner added another two for his hat trick, giving UNC a 6-2 lead at halftime.
Prossner continued his dominant play in the attacking zone, tallying two more goals in the third quarter, before Greenhalgh finally broke the Red’s scoreless streak of almost 30 minutes when he muscled his way towards the crease to bring Cornell within five.
But the Red was unable to fully get itself back into the game, as Clayton added a goal late in the fourth before McCall scored his second on the day with 2:26 left in the game.
While Cornell held the advantage in shots and ground balls, the Red had 22 turnovers — twice as many as UNC.
Even though Tambroni noted how hard the Red worked in the game, his team was unable to execute and get back into the game. Tambroni said the team will need it continue its intense play if it will be successful this season.
“I feel that this team has to do the little things to be successful and I don’t care who we’re playing, we have to work hard, we have to play with emotion, we have to pick the ball off the ground in numerous situations,” Tambroni said. “In between the [30-yard lines] is where I think this team wins or loses games.”
Archived article by Brian Tsao
Sun Assistant Sports Editor