February 25, 2008

Men’s Lax Opens Season With Win Over Navy

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A win is a win. At the end of a low-scoring day of play, that’s what mattered most as the No. 6 men’s lacrosse team beat No. 12 Navy, 8-7, in overtime to win its season opener. The last-minute win capped a furious comeback effort, with the Red scoring twice in the final minute of regulation play.
With the win, Cornell (1-0) handed Navy (2-1) its first loss of the season. The Red wasled by sophomore Ryan Hurley, who registered three points on two goals and an assist. Cornell knew going into the game that Navy was going to put up a strong defensive effort.
“We knew we would have to generate good offense against their defense, which has been successful over the years,” said head coach Jeff Tambroni. “Both teams were going to grind out opportunities to score.”
Cornell was ahead at the end of the first period, 2-1. The Red extended its lead early in the second period, with goals by sophomore midfielder Pierce Derkac and junior attacker Chris Finn, to go up 4-1 with less than seven minutes left in the period.
“Our guys were starting to do a good job of it in the beginning,” Tambroni said. “But then we forced a couple of balls.”[img_assist|nid=28161|title=Practice makes perfect|desc=In its season opening win over No. 12 Navy, the Red sent the game into overtime after scoring with 12 seconds remaining.|link=node|align=left|width=|height=0]
Cornell’s lead was short lived. Navy regained the lead in the second with four unanswered goals, then scored the only third-period goal to take a 6-4 lead.
“Unfortunately, our offense didn’t have the best day,” said senior midfielder John Glynn. “We definitely didn’t live up to our expectations. We had the passion, we just didn’t execute that great.”
Navy held a slim lead in ground balls — 37-31 — but had one more turnover (21-20), than the Red. The Midshipmen also won 10 of the 19 face-offs and converted the game’s only man-up opportunity.
The Midshipmen increased their lead to 7-4 after a goal to start the fourth period, increasing their streak of unanswered goals to six. As the minutes ticked down in the fourth quarter, senior attacker John Espey ended Cornell’s scoring drought. Espey’s goal was the spark the Red was looking for, as Cornell scored the last four goals of the competition, including two in the last minute.
“When it gets down to the line,” Glynn said, “We know how to play through adversity. We didn’t want to start the season 0-1. It would have been a very long bus ride home.”
Still, the Red trailed by one with under a minute left. Tambroni called a time out and drew up a play.
“Coach wanted me and John Glynn up top,” Seibald said. “He told us to just work together and create something. I pulled John aside and said ‘Pick for me.’ I kind of just ran as fast as I could. I got a shot off as quickly as I could.”
Seibald said that the team has had a lot of experience coming from behind, and that Tambroni has been focusing in practice on drills that deal with come-from-behind scenarios.
“When it came down to it, and we were down, no one ever thought ‘We’re out of this,’” Seibald said. “We knew that if we did what we did in practice, we could win.”
Cornell’s defense performed fairly well in its first outing, especially in the final quarter, when a couple of big stops and forced turnovers gave the offense the opportunities it needed.
“Our defensive played very well,” Tambroni said. “We gave up a couple of goals that were unfortunate, but they limited Navy to the shots that we hoped to limit them too.”
Glynn said that the team, especially the offense, just needs more game experience playing as a unit. The team is still getting a feel for its new line-up after losing the majority of its starters last year.
“It’s definitely going to take a lot more time playing with together,” Glynn said. “A lot of people just haven’t had the chance to step into that role, to be that player.”