July 19, 2009

Men’s Lacrosse Upsets Top-Ranked Princeton

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It took more than a year for the men’s lacrosse team to “get over the hump” of beating a top-5 team, but head coach Jeff Tambroni said his squad seemed to channel the spirit and intensity of the 2007 season in its 10-7 win over top-ranked Princeton on Saturday April 18 at Schoellkopf Field. With the win, Cornell secured a share of the 2009 Ivy League championship, its seventh consecutive league title.
Senior midfielder John Glynn continued his warrior effort at the face-off X, and the team made every possession count by slowing down the pace of the game and taking the “best available shot,” which is a mantra of Tambroni’s offense.
“Today we just came in with a game plan,” Tambroni said. “We needed to be a little bit more intelligent on offense. This was the first time in a long time we’ve been able to shoot like that.”
Junior attackman Ryan Hurley was the embodiment of intelligent shooting; he led the Red with three goals on just five shots. Rookie attackman Rob Pannell scored one goal and dished out two assists for three points.
Pannell was rated the No. 2 freshman in the country by Inside Lacrosse and was matched up against Princeton’s defenseman Chad Wiedmaier, the No. 1 freshman in the nation.
While neither rookie dominated the matchup, Pannell was around the cage all game, taking four shots on goal and drawing plenty of attention from Princeton’s defense.
“It’s just another matchup for [Pannell],” Hurley said. “He’s just been playing great all year, I don’t think he was worried about being ranked No. 1 or anything like that. He just played great.”
Senior captain Max Seibald scored twice in the contest, including a thunderous 15-yard shot in the fourth quarter to put the Red up 9-6 with just 8:27 to play.
Seibald’s goal capped off a 10-shot possession by the Red that spanned 6:33 of the fourth quarter — Princeton only had the ball for 65 seconds in the final frame and went nearly 14 minutes between settled possessions.
“We never had the ball,” said Princeton coach Bill Tierney. “You can’t win lacrosse games if you never have the ball. [The Red] did a fabulous job of defending us. We had the ball for like 20 seconds.”
Cornell was able to control possession thanks largely to a dominant 13-of-18 face-off effort by Glynn, who is playing through a fractured left elbow.
Princeton’s junior midfielder Paul Barnes won 1-of-7 and was so overmatched at the X that the Tigers eventually tried a long-stick midfielder, which only helped the Tigers to win 4-of-12 of the remaining restarts. Glynn wore his typical elbow protection — a bulky contraption that guards it from further injury — for the fourth game he played in since suffering the injury.
“It looks like I’m a robot out there,” he said.
Glynn also picked up 11 of Cornell’s 30 ground balls. Princeton’s entire lineup only picked up 11 ground balls, the lowest total for the Tigers with Tierney on the sidelines.
“Not only did [Glynn] dominate the face-off X,” Seibald said, “but he brought it out and settled the ball.”
The usual suspects accounted for most of Cornell’s scoring, but goals from freshman Roy Lang, sophomore John Thomson and senior George Calvert were key in pushing the Red over the Tigers. Those three provided all the Cornell offense in the third quarter when Princeton was effectively shutting down the Red’s go-to scorers. Despite being outscored 3-2 in the third quarter, the Tigers were building momentum steadily and forced senior goalie Jake Myers, who finished with seven saves, to come up with several big stops at the end of the quarter. Tambroni said Myers’ clutch saves were a shot in the arm for the Red; the team turned around and put together its 6:33 possession, capped off by Seibald’s goal, at the beginning of the next quarter.
“I knew that if we could just end the [six-minute possession] with a goal, it could be huge,” Tambroni said. “That was the first time I really felt the momentum behind me from the team.”
Contributions from the entire lineup along with a certain workmanlike attitude have historically enabled Cornell to compete at the upper echelon of college lacrosse, according to Tambroni. After a lackluster practice on Thursday April 16, the seniors on the team held a meeting to go over the importance of this game. Apparently it worked — Tambroni said the win over Princeton revealed a flash of that emotion that had been missing last season and for parts of this year, too.
“This senior class today just got that extra ]emotion],” he said. “We may or may not have the most talent of any team in the country — we’ve played well at times — but we’ve just been missing that [emotion]. … I feel like we had it today.
“They finally got what it’s like to be a part of Cornell lacrosse.”