This post has been updated.
With a little over three minutes on the clock Sunday, it looked as though unranked Cornell men’s lacrosse was about to pull off the impossible, but a late-game rally by No. 1 Albany sunk the Red in the game’s waning minutes to squash the upset bid.
Cornell (1-2) took a 9-7 lead over the Great Danes (3-0) with 7:28 to play on a goal from senior midfielder Jordan Dowiak. The Red’s defense held steady for a few minutes thereafter, but was ultimately unable to keep the nation’s best offense at bay in crunch time, surrendering four goals in the game’s final 3:18 to ultimately fall, 11-9.
“It started with a man-up that they got a call and that was the one that bounced off a guy’s foot or something and went in,” said interim head coach Peter Milliman. “That gave them some new life on offense.”
Senior goaltender Christian Knight finished the game with 19 saves, tied for his career-high, for a .633 percentage.
“We did a good part of executing most of our game plan,” Milliman said. “Obviously we wanted to win some more faceoffs and make some more shots, but I think in general on defense we … forced them into places where [Knight] was going to be able to see the ball best.”
After its worst two-year stretch in more than a decade, the Red (1-2) was looking to pick up its second win of the season to secure a record above .500 for the first time in nearly two years. A win against top-ranked Albany would have been Cornell’s first against a national No. 1 since beating Syracuse in April 2011.
Albany’s JD Ierlan trounced Cornell on faceoffs, allowing the Great Danes to control play in the middle of the field. Albany won all 24 faceoffs.
“I thought our guys did a good job of preparing, and then we went out today and just got beat by a position,” Milliman said. “We threw different things at [Ierlan], and four different guys took faceoffs and we didn’t have success with any of it.”
Ierlan won all 24 faceoffs for the Great Danes. Milliman said the team will focus on faceoffs in upcoming practices to improve control in the middle of the field.
“I don’t know if I’ve seen a guy who’s that hard to game plan against at that position, because he’s just faster than everybody else at it,” Milliman said of the Albany faceoff man. “We had a really hard time keeping up with his quickness.”
Dowiak got Cornell on the board in the first quarter when he made an alley dodge and buried one unassisted behind Albany goaltender JD Colarusso. Dowiak would add three more on the day, leading the offensive charge for his team as it tried to topple the national No. 1 squad.
Junior midfielder Jake McCulloch added two goals and one assist of his own and freshman attack John Piatelli notched his first collegiate goal en route to a three-point performance.
The Red is back in action early this week when it takes on Binghamton at Schoellkopf Field at 5 p.m. Tuesday.