After recording wins over No. 2 Duke and Ivy League opponent Yale over Spring Break, the men’s lacrosse team has opened the season with a 6-0 (1-0 Ivy) record for the first time since the 1987 season – a campaign in which the Red ended the year as the national runner-up.
“We’re real happy with what we’ve done, but [there’s] a lot of big games coming up, and no one in that locker room cares about winning six games right now,” said senior co-captain Joe Boulukos.
The Red began its defense of the Ivy League crown with a 16-6 win in its season opener against Yale Saturday on Schoellkopf Field.
Boulukos had three goals and two assists for a total of five points – enough to put him past the century mark in career points, an achievement marked by just 30 other players in the history of Cornell lacrosse.
Junior David Mitchell and senior Derek Haswell ignited the Red on the offensive end, as each tallied four goals against the Bulldogs. Mitchell added two helpers and Haswell had an assist of his own, while junior Eric Pittard added to the Cornell offense with a hat trick and a game-high three assists.
Brian Belsky tallied two goals for the Bulldogs (2-4, 0-2 Ivy), while senior Dave Bush and the Cornell defense held Yale’s leading scorer, Daniel Brillman – who has scored 16 goals this season – to a single assist.
Junior goaltender Matt McMonagle recorded 12 saves, including eight in the second half, while George Carafides tallied just six stops for the Bulldogs.
Both sides got off 31 shots, but the Red held a 31-23 edge in ground balls. Yale had an advantage in faceoffs, gaining control on 17-of-26 attempts. Dan Kallaugher led the Bulldogs with a 14-of-21 record in the middle.
The Red made a statement on the attack right from the start, scoring four goals on its first four shots. Junior Casey Lewis put Cornell on the scoreboard with just 1:56 gone in the first quarter. He assisted Mitchell for the second goal, and then Pittard shook his defender on the right side of the goal to triple Cornell’s lead. Mitchell completed the opening drive when he converted a pass from Boulukos from five yards out.
“That was a big part of our game plan to come out of the gates. That’s what our coaches wanted us to do,” Haswell said.
Pittard stretched the lead to five for the Red, scoring with just over five minutes left in the quarter, but the Bulldogs fought back, as David Schecter and Belsky connected on a pair of unanswered goals to cut the lead to 5-2 with 2:50 left in the first stanza. Haswell struck once more, tallying the last goal of the quarter to give Cornell a 6-2 lead a.
Yale looked to have momentum on its side as Kyle Washabaugh beat McMonagle with a low shot at the 9:14 mark to cut the Red’s advantage to 6-3.
“Basically, our motto is never too high, never too low, and a lot of times in the game of lacrosse goals are going to come in bunches one way or another,” Bush said. “It’s just a matter of buckling down and getting the next stop.”
It was Cornell’s turn to score in bunches after Yale’s attempted rally, as the Red rattled off four straight goals to rack up a 10-3 advantage with under two minutes left in the first half.
Haswell started the surge, completing a transition attack by scoring a goal from just outside the crease. Boulukos scored the team’s eighth goal of the day with 6:56 left in the half, unleashing a shot from 10 yards out to tally his 100th career point.
“The 100th point – that was great,” Boulukos said. “There’s been so many great players to go through here, to kind of be able to put your name up with that is awesome, and I couldn’t have done it without all these guys out here.”
Mitchell and Haswell each tallied their third goals of the game within 40 seconds of each other, but Belskey answered with a marker off the faceoff following Haswell’s goal to make the score 10-4 at the break.
Both offenses were quiet for the first six minutes after halftime, but the Red soon heated up and scored four goals – including two man-advantage scores – to give itself a 14-4 lead heading into the final frame.
Kempner struck for Yale with 49 seconds elapsed in the final quarter; however, Boulukos extended Cornell’s lead to 10 once more, completing a transition attack when he converted a pass from Pittard. Haswell finished off the scoring for the Red with 9:21 left on the clock, and Yale’s Michael Karwoski had the final goal of the day six minutes later.
Cornell 11, Duke 8
The first test to Cornell’s perfect mark came last Tuesday in Durham, N.C., against a Duke squad that eliminated the Red, 11-8, in the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last year. Pittard was the difference in the latest meeting, scoring three goals in a crucial fourth-quarter rally to help the Red secure an 11-7 win over the Blue Devils (6-2).
Junior David Mitchell matched Pittard with three goals of his own, and freshman Max Seibald added a pair. Pittard also had two assists on the day.
“We’re just starting to get our chemistry going,” Haswell said. “Having [Pittard] step up and play the way he’s been playing just boosts our offense, makes another offensive threat on the field. He’s utilizing our offense … throwing out so many assists per game, it’s been great, he’s doing a great job.”
Duke was paced by Matt Zash and Zack Greer, who scored two goals apiece for the Blue Devils.
McMonagle notched 10 saves to secure the win, while his Duke counterpart, Dan Loftus, had 11 stops.
Cornell came out strong, outshooting the Blue Devils, 15-2, in the first quarter and earning a slight, 2-1, advantage. Mitchell scored on the Red’s first possession, collecting a rebound from a shot by Seibald, beating Loftus with a low shot.
However, the Blue Devils dominated play in the second quarter, keeping the ball in the Red’s defensive zone and scoring two goals to earn a 3-2 lead heading into the break. Greer scored twice over a span of two minutes, but McMonagle minimized the damage with six saves in the quarter.
“I think we held the ball for literally under a minute in the second quarter. I think that was the turning point of the game. Our guys held on, they made a stand defensively, and then our guys started to gain a little momentum going into that second half and started playing with a little bit more poise, playing with a lot more confidence,” head coach Jeff Tambroni said.
The two sides battled back and forth in the third quarter, with the Red outscoring the Blue Devils, 4-3, to force a 7-all tie heading into the final 15 minutes.
Mitchell opened the scoring in the final stanza, beating Loftus with a low shot at the 12:42 mark as he fell to the ground to put Cornell ahead, 7-6. Pittard followed this with his first goal of the day with just over 10 minutes left on the clock. Although this would prove to be the game-winning tally, the Blue Devils stayed close as Kyle Dowd beat McMonagle less than a minute later to make the score 8-7.
Pittard put the game out of reach, bookending a goal by Haswell with two of his own over the next two minutes to give the Red an 11-7 lead with a little more than seven minutes left to play.
“We showed a lot of heart in the Duke game,” Tambroni said. “We keep moving on, and we keep winning, so I guess regardless of what everybody else’s situation is in the country, we just keep worrying about ourselves and hope that we can just get small doses of success each week and keep moving forward.”
Archived article by Olivia Dwyer
Sun Sports Editor