March 1, 2011

Pannell’s Hat Trick Highlights Men’s Lacrosse’s Dominating Offensive Effort

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The men’s lacrosse team traveled an hour Southeast yesterday afternoon to Binghamton in its second game of the season. The Red (2-0) played a strong first half against the Bearcats (0-3) and maintained its lead until the end of the game to win the contest, 13-4.

Cornell came out forcefully in the first quarter, getting on the board at 2:12 with a goal scored by junior co-captain and attackman Rob Pannell, with an assist from senior midfielder David Lau. Pannell tallied a total of eight points in the half, notching three goals for a hat trick and another five assists. Twelve teammates from various positions joined him in earning points for the Red.

“Offensively in the first half we came out firing on all cylinders — middies [and] attack all playing really well and finishing and that’s what we wanted to do to get out to a good start,” Pannell said.

Defensemen also played an important role on the offensive attack in the first 30 minutes of the game, with sophomores Mike Bronzino and Jason Noble contributing a combined one goal and two assists.

While the midfielders indeed contributed to racking up points on the scoreboard offensively, these players specifically excelled in the face offs against the Bearcats to help set the tone of the game. Starting face-off player, junior Mitch McMichael, went 8-for-8 to factor into the total 12-of-15 face-off wins Cornell had on the afternoon.

“The team executed very well in the first half, especially at the face-off X. I think we did a very good job there; it allowed us control of possession,” said head coach Ben DeLuca ’98.

By the time halftime rolled around, Cornell had held Binghamton’s offense to just four shots — all stopped by sophomore goaltender A.J. Fiore. This allowed the Red to enter the third quarter with a 13-0 lead, with two of these goals coming from extra-man opportunities.

However, after the 10-minute halftime break, the energy of play shifted from Cornell’s control to Binghamton’s. The Bearcats responded to being shut out in the first half by shutting out the Red in the last two quarters, while scoring four goals of their own. Although this number was not sufficient to surmount Cornell’s initial 13-goal lead, it still proved the power of the change in style of play that Binghamton exhibited.

“I think the biggest difference was that Binghamton really stepped it up on defense and switched to a zone defense and I think that’s something that we hadn’t really prepared for that much, we do a lot of man-to-man stuff,” Pannell said. “Our first attack is pretty prepared for it but with our second guys out there, we tried to just run our normal offenses through it and we were just trying to get some looks. To their credit, their defense did really well and their offense possessed the ball in the defensive end.”

Additionally, with newer faces on the field as the Red tried to allow for a variety of teammates to experience playing time, the offense in the second half proved a little weaker than in the first.

“Our execution offensively was pretty poor, our stick work wasn’t good, and we just didn’t do the little things,” DeLuca said, adding that Binghamton’s defense change really attested to the team’s reputable strength on that end of the field.

With players who normally don’t see as much time out in the offensive zone in the second half, lesser-seen goalies also played on the turf. Backup goalies sophomore Andrew West and junior Brian O’Donnell each took a stab between the pipes during the latter half, and both performed well.

“Both of them are doing a great job. Andrew West was hurt in the Fall and he has come back and is healthy. He’s done a great job for us; we’re really excited about his performance today,” DeLuca said. “I think he did a good job seeing the ball, did a good job in the clear and made some big saves for us. Brian O’Donnell came in and did a good job for us as well.”

DeLuca added that the competitive performance from these two net minders makes for a good atmosphere at practices against starter Fiore, allowing for each player to achieve his highest level of play.

Looking forward, the Red will look to maintain its strong game of defense coupled with a powerful offense as it heads into future games. As the Cornell squad is able to showcase its diversity with a number of players contributing points for the team, it hopes to continue to better each member during practice this week before another away game at Army this weekend.

Original Author: Reena Gilani