March 28, 2011

Cornell Men’s Lacrosse Remains Undefeated in Ivy League

Print More

The No. 10 men’s lacrosse team plowed through its intense schedule of spring break matchups, finishing the week with a 3-0 record over its three nationally ranked opponents: No. 19 Yale, No. 12 Stony Brook and No. 13 Penn. After taking down Yale in New Haven, Ct., and hosting Penn at Schoellkopf Field for an overtime victory, the Red currently sits undefeated at the top of the Ivy League Conference.

Cornell (6-2, 2-0 Ivy) began spring break play on Mar. 19 at Yale (5-1, 1-1 Ivy) in a decisive victory — surprisingly with the home Bull Dogs leading in shots (37-33), face offs (14-of-21) and ground balls (30-25). Yale’s one shortcoming came in the form of a high number of turnovers (19-16) — giving Cornell possession of the ball more times than the Red lost control of it, which contributed to the 10-8 final score in the visitors’ favor.

“In the first Ivy League contest, on the road in a very tough environment, against a good team, I think we’re very happy to get a win,” said head coach Ben DeLuca ’98. “In general I thought we did a good job in limiting Yale’s main threats … and executing the game plan for the majority of the game.”

Yale was not able to gain more than a one-goal lead throughout the entirety of the game, as Cornell was solid on the response during the two occasions in which this happened. After the Red got on the board early to make the score 1-0 with a career-first goal by sophomore defenseman Thomas Keith, the Bull Dogs responded with two of their own. Another back-and-forth occurred, before Cornell evened at three on a wrap-around goal by junior co-captain and attackman Rob Pannell before going on an insurmountable scoring run. The Red scored three consecutive goals to take the lead, 6-3, at the half.

Sophomore attackman Steve Mock led the attack on the day — matching a career-high with four goals scored throughout the entirety of the game. He scored the last Cornell goal of the day by sending a ball on the crease during a transition just as the fourth quarter opened up. Mock was named the Ivy League Player of the Week for Spring Break as a result of his exceptional play in this game.

But Mock’s display of talent did not stop at Yale, he carried on as the team traveled to LaValle Stadium in Long Island, N.Y., on Mar. 22 to play at the Stony Brook Seawolves. Mock — notching another four goals on the night — hails from Long Island like many of his teammates; he was able to play in front of a supportive home crowd.

“Playing in front of my family … and friends here at Stony Brook, it gives you the extra edge and the extra effort to know they’re here,” Mock said. “It’s great that we pulled out the win and that we pulled together a team effort.”

Joining him in leading the team against Stony Brook were Pannell and senior attackman David Lau — two other Long Island natives. Pannell chipped in four goals of his own and Lau scored an impressive five on the night in which Cornell dismantled Stony Brook for the 17-9 win. The three of them combined for two-thirds of the Red’s 27 points of the match up.

“It was definitely nice getting offense working together and being successful. That’s the biggest thing: working together as a unit,” Lau said.

The Seawolves put up a hard fight against the Red, despite what the final score may reveal. Stony Brook was successful in all but one clearing attempt and posted a competitive 34 shots to Cornell’s 33. The Red had a better handle on capitalizing on presented opportunities at the cage and also sported strong goal tending. Cornell’s goalies, sophomore A.J. Fiore and freshman Andrew West, combined for 10 saves as the Red went up against some of the best players in the country.

Stony Brook’s top-ranked offensive player Kevin Crowley, specifically, was held to just two goals and two assists in the game, which is less than the average 4.67 points he boasted entering last week’s contest. This was a true testament to the strength of Cornell’s defense all-around.

“It was a big credit to [senior defenseman] Max Feely — he covered him for big parts of the game,” Mock said. “I think he did a great job controlling [Crowley] … the whole defense did a great job of sliding to him when they needed to and having control over such a dangerous player.”

“Our team did a good job of limiting him and the other guys to some low-percentage looks,” DeLuca added. “He’s a fantastic player; you really can’t try and stop him, you just have to try and contain him and I think our guys did a fine job of that … some of the other guys [of Stony Brook] benefited from that, but that’s going to happen.”

Face-off wise, junior midfielder Mitch McMichael proved to be a worthy opponent in the Stony Brook game, as he matched up with one of the strongest players at the X in the country and went 13-of-26.

“A number of different guys were running on the wings for us and helped Mitch a great deal but he did a good job of tying up Adam Rand, who is one of the best in the country,” DeLuca said. “He tried to make it a 50-50 ground ball and keep us in it to allow us to control possession in the first half, and get our offense to the ball and get some rhythm. I thought we rode the ball pretty well, and we had an answer for every goal they scored; we didn’t allow them to get a run.”

The game against the Seawolves was unique in that, compared to previous games in which offensive points came from a blend between attackman, midfielders and defensemen, this match up witnessed all points coming from the former two sects.

“We just recently put together a stock unit, every one’s healthy now,” Mock, who had missed two of the prior six games due to injury, explained that night. “Usually we like to see a little more balanced attack to our offense, but it’s great to see that we can square down on the attack and also show at the midfield.”

Following that game, the Red returned to Ithaca for another Ivy League contest on Saturday afternoon. Cornell welcomed Penn (4-3, 1-1 Ivy) and toughed out a cutthroat lacrosse battle to eventually take the win in overtime, 13-12.

The Quakers were unable to get onto the board until the end of the first quarter, at which point the score was in the Red’s favor, 4-1. Cornell continued to remain ahead with ball possession, and entered halftime with a five-goal lead, 7-2, and it appeared as though the contest had a clear winner.

After halftime, however, it was a completely different game. Although the Red carried on its lead and sent in another five goals, never once allowing the Quakers to have the edge on the board, Penn did indeed score 10 goals in the span of just 30 minutes for an laudable comeback. Both Fiore and opposing goalie Brian Feeney posted some great saves in the closing moments of the game to propel it into overtime.

“They came out in the second half and did a great job of executing and bringing the game back to a tie and a battle late in that game,” DeLuca said. “I’m pretty disappointed with our defensive effort. I think we were extremely sloppy, we allowed them get back into the game.”

The Red’s ability to pick up ground balls was very liable for the win on Saturday, as the team’s midfield led 39-28. Cornell also held the slight advantage in shots, 36-33, and at the face-off X, where it went 15-of-29.

Sophomore defenseman Jason Noble had a good personal game, as he got five ground balls by himself and also went 8-of-10 for face offs after the halftime break.

On the attack, Pannell and Lau led in points with two goals and two assists each. Pannell, who left the game briefly in the second quarter after being hit, valiantly came back to get past the Quakers’ defense and notched one goal and two helpers in the second half.

“I knew that I wanted to be on the field and that nothing was going to stop me from playing,” Pannell said.

Lau, meanwhile, helped salvage the game for the Red by assisting the final goal. He sent the ball to the open junior midfielder Roy Lang, who was able to bury it.

“David made an awesome look and I was on the doorstep,” Lang said in a post-game press conference about Lau. “I really give credit to David for the attack.”

Cornell will return to the turf on Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m. to face the only other undefeated school in the Ivy League, Dartmouth.

Original Author: Reena Gilani