It has not been the season the Cornell men’s lacrosse team has been hoping for. The young but promising pieces for the Red did not gel together fast enough, and for the second straight year, the team will fall below .500 and will miss out on the chance for postseason play.
Heading into Saturday’s matchup, Cornell (4-8, 2-3 Ivy) and Brown (7-5, 3-2) were tied for third-place, vying to secure a top-four finish and a spot in the Ivy League postseason tournament. But with what has been an achilles heel all year long for Cornell, a weak third quarter showing proved to be the difference of Saturday’s 13-10 loss to Brown on the road.
“The guys really put in a great effort today, I thought they played extremely hard start to finish,” said head coach Matt Kerwick. “We are a disappointed group, but it’s one more week together for sure against our oldest rival at home and we are just going to put everything that we can to this week and win against Princeton.”
The team headed into halftime down just a single goal, and a mere 21 seconds into the second half, freshman Jeff Teat knotted the game for Cornell at seven. But the Red would only score once more in the quarter, and by the time of the fourth’s opening faceoff, the Bears built itself a four-goal cushion the Red could not make up.
All year long, coming out of halftime has been a weak spot for Cornell, and the worst quarter of the season in terms of scoring differential has been the third by a wide margin. Opponents hold a 50-33 edge on the Red in the third, with the next worst quarter being the second at a negative six goal differential.
Only four times this year has Cornell been able to come out in the third quarter and outscore its opponent, dropping one of those contests to Penn on March 25.
“Third quarter again was unfortunate,” Kerwick said. “We had plenty of chances, we actually started winning a few faceoffs, but didn’t capitalize and Brown scored a few and built that lead.”
During last year’s demoralizing loss to Brown — a 22-5 thrashing at home for the worst loss since 1994 — Brown utilized 15 different point scores to spoil the home finale for the Red in the 2016 season.
But this year, already tied with the amount of losses that came last year entering Saturday, it was not the magnitude of scorers that plagued Cornell in a second straight loss to Brown, but rather the man in net.
Freshman Phil Goss — who leads the country in saves per game with 13 and a goalie for Team USA’s U19 squad — placed the Bears on his shoulders for the win and a spot in the Ivy tournament. Goss finished the game with 14 saves, almost all of which seemed to come at the exact right time for Brown. He had 10 in the second half alone to fend off a late Red comeback.
“For us, [senior goalie Christian Knight’s performance] kept us basically even with Brown at halftime,” Kerwick said. “In the second half [Goss] made some really impressive stops in tight and on the doorstep saves we need[ed] to capitalize on.”
Jeff Teat tacked on two goals in the fourth quarter to finish the game with three goals to cut the Bear lead 12-10. But Brown’s junior Dylan Molloy — reigning Tewaaraton Trophy award winner for best collegiate lacrosse player — scored on a late empty-goal to finish off the 13-10 win for Brown.
The loss comes despite strong performances by a few key players. Like Goss, Knight also finished the game with 14 saves, and Teat tacked on three assists with his three goals. The seven-point performance by Teat puts him in third place among current Ivy League rookies for points in a season with 61, and is only six points behind the school record, which was set in 2009.
The loss, when coupled with a win by Penn over Dartmouth, bumps Cornell from postseason contention. Cornell can tie Penn’s league record with a victory over Princeton next weekend, but Penn holds the tiebreaker after defeating Cornell earlier this year.
Nevertheless, the team will treat the upcoming game no differently despite having nothing to gain from this season.
“Our approach isn’t going to change, it’s about working hard every day and staying motivated and staying consistent with our effort and our execution,” Kerwick said. “These guys work awfully hard, and we’re going to finish it off the very best [way] we can.”
Cornell will welcome Princeton — who sits in second place in the league and has clinched a berth to the tournament — to Schoellkopf for the final game of the year on Saturday for Senior Day. Action will get underway at 3 p.m.
Zach Silver ’19 contributed to this report.