I really wanted to lead my article with one word – “Wow.” This was one of the most exciting sporting events I have ever been to, and certainly have covered. When Cornell scored the winning goal, it took every fiber of my being not to jump for joy in the press box, but I stayed unbiased. Unfortunately, now I have a lot of pent-up energy, and I probably need to hit something. It is 12:50 at night, and I just finished writing the recap, and I want to go to bed, but first I have to organize my thoughts about this incredible game, from gameplay to fan issues. So here it goes.
Cornell’s Three Stars:
1) Max Seibald – He didn’t do much for most of the game, as he was covered by Steven Panerelli, Syracuse’s best defender. But he made up for it at the end as he just muscled his way past his defender and netted Cornell the winning goal. He also had the courage to call the play for himself in the huddle. Call him “Mr. Clutch.”
2) Mitch Belisle – This is pretty underrated, but Belisle held Syracuse’s Mike Levielle to only one assist and no goals. Levielle is a great player and a preseason first-team All-American, and Belisle just shut him down. In addition, Belisle was all over the place diving for ground balls and making clutch plays. While his performance does not show up on the stat sheet, Belisle should be commended for his outstanding performance.
3) Eric Pittard – When Cornell’s offense was stagnant in the second and third, Pittard kept the Red in the game. He kept creating opportunities for himself and his teammates and kept Cornell in the lead for most of the contest. He also had a team-high seven points.
Peter Coluccini – Wow, this was an incredible goaltending performance by Coluccini. He made acrobatic save after acrobatic save, including one on his rear end of a David Mitchell shot. He was like the character Earth from “Captain Planet,” who just is made of rock, or at least I think so. If not, he can be Wind or Heart or something.
Pet Peeves of the Night:
1) People leaving the game early – I spotted a group of three girls leaving the stadium with eight seconds left. You have got to be kidding me. I am all for beating traffic, but this is a little overboard. George Costanza would be proud.
2) Syracuse’s loudspeakers – They played dumb songs all night, including “Shout” and “Superman” by Three Doors Down. Give me a break. It unfortunately drowned out the Cornell band. Let’s see, “Hey Song” or Gnarls Barkely? Which one would you pick?
3) The Labyrinth that is the Carrier Dome – It was almost impossible to find the press conference. I ended up following another journalist down into an “Authorized Personnel Only” area, then getting lost. The press conference was held in the depths of the Dome. I could barely find my way out after it. They could use a sign or two there.
4) Syracuse Celebration – After one goal, the Orange had a ridiculously long celebration. In the NFL, that would have drawn a 15-yard penalty.
5) T-shirt Toss – At one point, they threw t-shirts only into the Syracuse section. What! I’m sure plenty of Cornell students would have liked a Syracuse t-shirt. After all, they need something to burn while making a fire.
Syracuse is a tough team whose record is not indicative of how good it is. They could be a force if it makes the Tournament. Meanwhile, Cornell showed a lot of resiliency. In the first quarter, it had a lot of easy looks, especially in transition. Once Syracuse tightened up its defense and Coluccini began to play out of his mind, Cornell was unable to keep up the tempo. There were stretches where I felt Cornell was pressing too much, and Syracuse had all the momentum. In addition, Cornell’s performance on face offs gave Syracuse a decided advantage. Also, Cornell took seven penalties as opposed to Syracuse’s two. However, Cornell kept its composure, especially by the performance of Pittard, who was a rock today. And even though Syracuse scored three in a row to tie it at the end, it was able to avoid overtime with Seibald’s clutch goal, surely the biggest of the season and of his career. Cornell should have a lot of momentum going into next weekend.