It was a tough one to swallow for Cornell men’s lacrosse. Taking the lead on seven different occasions, the home team had several chances to win. But down the stretch, the defending Ivy League champions held the edge in the game’s critical waning moments.
In its first Ivy League game of the season, the Red fell to Yale, 13-11. Neither team trailed by more than two goals during the contest, and the game was tied with under five minutes remaining. Nonetheless, the underdogs were unable to finish the job.
“It’s obviously a disappointing loss,” said interim head coach Peter Milliman. “We wanted that one very badly. I felt like we were competing well enough to deserve it, but we didn’t earn it at the end of the day.”
Down by a goal with two minutes left on the clock, Cornell had the ball on the attack following a Yale timeout. This was the chance to even the score and at the very least send the game to overtime.
Having notched six points on the day at that point, sophomore attack Jeff Teat naturally had the ball in the situation. But Teat, attempting an ill-advised pass across the field, turned the ball over to Yale’s Christopher Keating. Teat had seven turnovers in the game, comprising half his team’s giveaways.
“I think it came down to the end of the game, the fourth quarter,” Teat said. “We had a good amount of turnovers, specifically me, going down the stretch, not making plays. I think that was the difference.”
The Bulldogs would go on to score their 13th goal and seal the deal for the visiting squad.
“There was some plays there that made the difference and [Yale’s] a very good team, they play quality lacrosse,” Milliman said. “They make you earn everything and in a game like that it’s really important that you execute across the board. We had a few too many turnovers and some mistakes in some certain places.”
The Red beat out the Bulldogs in the ground ball game, executed all but one clear and won the faceoff battle — an area the team has struggled with — by a significant margin with the help of sophomore face-off go-off Paul Rasimowicz.
“I’m proud [of] our faceoff unit specifically,” Milliman said. “[Rasimowicz] fought hard and got some scrappy victories there. I’m proud of our guys for winning the ground ball battle against a tough team. But, we got some guys that need to grow up. We need to get more experience.”
Experienced teams tend to be more polished and make few “rookie” mistakes. Cornell, however, had its share of mistakes Saturday, specifically in the turnover department, with a total of 14.
The Bulldogs’ Ben Reeves — a two-time Tewaaraton Award Finalist and two-time first team All-American — and Jackson Morrill were both a headache for the defense, combining for eight of the visitor’s 13 goals.
In a game where it needed to excel, the Red instead turned in a relatively average defensive performance, conceding 13 goals to a Yale team that averages 11 per game.
“They are a very experienced group,” said senior defenseman Jake Pulver. “A lot of those guys have been playing together for a while and they just exploited some little mistakes we made maybe being out of position here and there and they capitalized on it.”
Fifth-year goaltender Christian Knight, who is off to a hot start this season, was unable to pick up the win in the cage today. The netminder made 11 saves on 24 shots on goal.
At the end of the day, Cornell once again showed it can play a nationally-ranked team tight, just as it did against No. 1 Albany. But for Milliman and his squad, losing close doesn’t cut it.
“I think we have proven we can play with some top-10 teams, but that’s not a moral victory for anybody,” Milliman said. “I don’t think anyone in our locker room is satisfied with that. We want to win the Ivy League, we want to compete for national championships and we want to do it every year.”
Cornell continues Ivy League play next weekend against Penn on the road at noon Saturday.