“We have two goals this season — to be undefeated at home and in the Ivy League. So, we are going to take care of business on Saturday.”
Senior midfielder Roy Lang was confident as he expressed his enthusiasm heading into the Red’s first conference game of the season on March 17 against Ivy rival Yale. No. 4 Cornell (6-1, 2-0 Ivy League) hosted the Bulldogs (2-4, 0-2) at Schoellkopf Field in the Red’s first of three games over Spring Break.
The contest against Yale began quickly in the Red’s favor, as senior midfielder J.J. Gilbane lit up the scoreboard just 1:26 into the first frame off a feed from senior midfielder Chris Langton. The Bulldogs responded less than two minutes later with a goal of their own, tying everything up, 1-1. Junior attacker Connor English struck next for Cornell six minutes into the period, lifting the Red to 2-1 with an assist by freshman attacker Matt Donovan. The Bulldogs answered the point by going on a 3-0 run, wrapping up the period in the lead, 4-2.
“Going into the game, I was told by a lot of upper-classmen that there is nothing like Ivy League games and I didn’t know what they were saying,” Donovan said. “Then when we were losing, I knew exactly what they were talking about.”
In the Ivy League — where every game counts and winning or losing could be the difference between making the NCAA tournament or not in a few weeks — every game becomes a battle. The Red managed to tie everything up, 5-5, by the close of the second period and it was any man’s game heading into the second half. Langton and Gilbane found the back of the net in the third and fourth periods, respectively, as did two other Yale players, bringing the game to its sixth tie. Evened up at 7-7, one team needed to light up the scoreboard one final time, or risk heading into overtime. With just over five minutes left to play, Lang shot off a rocket, which propelled the Red to its first Ivy win of the season, 8-7. As Lang hoped it would, the Red took care of business.
“Roy came down and scored with a few minutes left and we were able to hold our lead to the end,” Gilbane said. “Helping to secure that win was a team effort, but definitely an effort by the senior class.”
“We had a lot of leadership by the senior class,” Donovan added. “It was a tough one but we grinded it out and started Spring Break out with the win.”
Just three days after the tight win over Yale, Cornell hit the road on March 20 to take on fellow Top-10 school, Denver. Traveling to a neutral location in Hempstead, N.Y., the Red secured a close 9-8 win in overtime against the No. 8 Pioneers. Langton scored the game-winner; however, it was junior attacker Steve Mock who was the Red’s saving grace. With just 6.3 seconds to play left in regulation, Mock received a feed from Langton and found the back of the Pioneers’ net.
“It was a clutch goal by Mock,” Gilbane said. “We set up a play and we had Mock shoot it and he scored. Time was running out and … it was not just the offense that delivered, but it was also the defense that got us the ball back so we could score and get into overtime.”
Denver almost walked away with the win with under three minutes to go in the final frame when Cornell junior defenseman Jason Noble’s twin brother, Jeremy Noble, scored for the Pioneers, giving them an 8-7 edge over the Red. However, Jason Noble said he was not about to let the game slip away so easily.
“I was sorta pissed at myself that it would be him to score the game winner,” he said. “I was doing everything I could to get the ball back for us to give the attack a chance to score.”
Langton’s second goal of the game was just what the Red needed to secure the win, giving Cornell its fifth win of the season and second of its three game Spring Break campaign. Wrapping off the week, the Red headed to Philadelphia, Pa., where it would face off against conference opponent Penn. The Quakers (1-5, 0-2) may not have been experiencing the best season to date; however, they gave a Red a run for its money this past Saturday.
Penn had the upper hand over the Red, dominating the better part of the game — leading by as many as five points and entering the final frame with an 11-8 edge over Cornell. While things may have looked bleak for the Red, the winds shifted and caught Cornell’s sails in the fourth period, propelling the team to a 16-11 win over the Quakers with a remarkable 8-0 run in the final frame.
“I think that we started to click and really started to play our type of lacrosse at the right time,” Gilbane said. “It was a little late, but we hadn’t played our best offense throughout the game and give Penn’s defense credit. In the fourth quarter we started to play a little more aggressively and the offense started to run and it worked.”
A standout for the Red, Donovan notched three goals and two assists in the big win, which earned him his second Ivy League Rookie of the Week honor. Joining him in weekly awards, Mock also earned recognition as Player of the Week for his performances over break.
“I was not plying too well before that in the past couple games; I let some of the mistakes I made earlier in the game affect me later,” Donovan said. “Talking to the coaches and [injured senior captain Rob Pannell,] they told me I need to put them in the back of my head and play my game. I did that and finally had a great game.”
“Matt has come in and played extremely hard, whether it’s in the weight room or on the field,” Gilbane said. “It’s great to see a freshman come in and contribute as much as he has.”
Original Author: Lauren Ritter