In a season so far marked by ups and downs, Cornell men’s lacrosse picked up its first conference win of the year on Saturday, defeating Penn, 20-13.
During halftime at Adams Field in Philadelphia, the scoreboard reflected a two-goal lead for the Quakers (5-4, 1-1 Ivy). But the Red (4-3, 1-1) came out strong in the second half, scoring nine of the game’s last 11 goals to power itself to victory.
“I thought it was our best second-half effort of the year,” said interim head coach Peter Milliman. “Our guys solved some defensive problems at halftime … Offensively, I think we just kept our head and tried to stay patient and disciplined, and we got the ball enough times to get it in there.”
Sophomore attack Jeff Teat led all scorers on the day, notching six goals and two assists for his most points since earning 10 against Hobart on Feb. 24. The second-year standout had a hand in both of the Red’s man-up tallies on the day, scoring on one and assisting on another.
“[Teat] is just a big piece of the offense,” Milliman said. “He’s able to do so much for us, you know, we can turn to him when we need things … But I think our offense in general was clicking pretty well and moving the ball and creating opportunities.”
Junior midfielder Jake McColluch was instrumental on both sides of the ball, putting up eight points of his own, a career-high, and causing two turnovers.
Senior goalkeeper Christian Knight played the entire first half but did not return for the third quarter, leaving sophomore Caelahn Bullen to fill in. Bullen stood strong behind solid defense through the game’s final 30 minutes to earn his first career win.
“[Bullen] was strong, I think our defense tightened up a bit in the second half,” Milliman said. “He made some key saves … [and] made some good decisions.”
Perhaps the biggest bright spot of the day for Cornell came in the faceoff circle, where sophomore FOGO Paul Rasimowicz continued his upward trend, emerging victorious on a career-high 21 of the contest’s 36 draws.
Faceoffs had been a struggle in the early part of the Red’s season, as Cornell sported a dismal 25 percent success rate in its first three games. Since then, however, Rasimowicz has vastly improved, particularly in his last two games.
“If you take a look at the few games since Albany [on March 4], Paul has really performed well,” Milliman said. “His numbers maybe don’t reflect that because of the tough start early on in the year.”
Cornell executed the fundamentals well on Saturday, going a perfect 10-for-10 on clear attempts and only coughing up six turnovers — a stark contrast to last week’s 14 against Yale.
The win was Cornell’s second against a ranked opponent this season and its first on an opponent’s home turf.
“We talked all week about finishing plays,” Milliman said. “We knew what we wanted to do, and we had to go and execute.”
The Red returns to action this Tuesday, when it takes on Air Force at Schoellkopf Field at 5 p.m.