Desperate to prove that 2018 would be a new chapter after a disappointing 2017 and a season-opening loss to Colgate last week, Cornell men’s lacrosse showed up on Saturday to defeat its oldest rival Hobart, 15-8, and secure its first victory of the young season.
The win comes off the heels of a shaky opening game against the Raiders last week, where the Red seemed off balance from a fundamental standpoint.
“I think the biggest difference [between the Colgate game and Hobart game] is that we were a little bit more experienced in the middle of the field and made some better plays,” said interim head coach Peter Milliman. “We were getting more consistent play throughout and I think that allowed us to see the plays a little bit ahead.”
The Red (1-1) struck first but fell behind early in the first quarter at Schoellkopf, after the Statesmen (0-3) scored four unanswered to take a three-goal lead.
“We were really struggling to get into our offense because [Hobart] applied a little bit of pressure,” Milliman said. “And I don’t think we were moving at a pace we needed to.”
But Cornell took control late in the first and into the second, scoring seven unanswered to enter halftime with an 8-5 lead. The home team never looked back, cruising to a decisive victory.
“The boys showed some grit coming back from a bad start,” Milliman said. “But we finished the game well, played strong through the middle, and I think we’re happy with a a big step forward.”
When all was said and done, some familiar faces sat atop Cornell’s box score. Sophomore attack Jeff Teat led the way for the Red with a 10-point performance, notching four goals and six assists, while junior attack Clarke Petterson had four goals of his own.
“Once we started putting the ball in the net and feeling comfortable out there, then that’s when we knew we were playing at our pace, and we could do anything we want,” Teat said.
In goal, fifth-year senior Christian Knight made 19 saves to help anchor his team to victory.
“It took a little while to settle in,” Knight said. “Even as a fifth-year guy, you know, everyone has to work the nerves out. [But] it really comes down to the defense, they played outstanding.”
Cornell picked up 28 ground balls to Hobart’s 25, an improvement from the last matchup where the Red was badly outmatched on that front.
On the faceoff, Cornell faired better this week as well, holding its own and for an even 13 for 26 on the draw. The improvement came partially due to a personnel change, swapping out sophomore FOGO Paul Rasimowicz in favor of freshman midfielder Matt Licciardi, who was successful on 10 of 19 draws.
“[Licciardi] is a very talented young man,” Milliman said. “He works as hard as anybody; he plays as hard as anybody, and he’s got an ability to do a lot of things well.”
Despite improvement on ground balls and faceoffs, the Red took care of the ball poorly, coughing up 14 turnovers, six of which came on the clear. Cornell was successful on just 17 of its 23 clears, a poor showing that mirrored its biggest weakness a week ago.
“I thought we did a better job winning ground balls and winning faceoffs,” Milliman said. “[But] we still need to clean up some clearing stuff.”
The meeting Saturday was the 137th between the two programs, collegiate lacrosse’s most frequently played rivalry. Cornell expanded its series lead by picking up its 86th win against the Statesmen.
The Red is back in action next Saturday when it travels across Interstate 88 for a matchup with No. 2 Albany.
Bennett Gross ’20 contributed reporting to this story.