This post has been updated.
Coming off four straight wins, in a matchup against perennial powerhouse in Syracuse, it was a distinct possibility Cornell men’s lacrosse would end its winning streak and finally cool off.
But that’s a storyline from past seasons — not this one. The Cornell brand of lacrosse is back, and the Red means business; at least for now.
“We are really excited that we are playing [Cornell’s style of] lacrosse, and that means a lot to us,” said interim head coach Peter Milliman.
In a primetime matchup at home Tuesday evening, Cornell defeated the Orange, 13-8. Pulling away in the game’s third quarter, the team managed to secure its first back-to-back win over Syracuse on Schoellkopf Field since 2000-02.
“I think that was one of our better full team efforts this year,” Milliman said. “I would also say that was our best offensive effort. They got the eight goals, but I thought out half field defense was really outstanding when they needed to be.”
The visitors kept the Red on its heels towards the end of the contest, but failed to overcome a six-goal deficit entering the fourth quarter.
Sophomore attack Jeff Teat and freshman midfielder Jonathan Donville led the way on offense with six and five points apiece.
“Obviously it’s really nice [to score points] in a game like that,” Donville said. “Being a part of a group of six guys and the way we move the ball as a team is something that’s been impressive all year.”
Filling in for senior Christian Knight once again, sophomore goaltender Caelahn Bullen stood strong in goal with 14 saves.
“[I was] making sure that I am just focusing on myself and knowing that if I focus on myself I can focus on that ball,” Bullen said. “[My teammates] give me a test every practice, and I just took this game as another test, to test those shooters, and know that I can step to the ball.”
A key moment came in game’s first quarter as Cornell led, 4-2, but couldn’t seem to distance itself from the Orange. Senior defenseman Jake Pulver was called for holding and was sent off for 30 seconds.
On the Syracuse man advantage, Bullen would make a crucial save off a shot from Bradley Voight. The penalty expired, and Cornell marched down the field to extend its lead to three on a goal from freshman John Piatelli. From then on, the underdogs had the wind in their sails.
“We didn’t get real in depth with what they were going to do on man up, but we have a pretty good sense of it,” Milliman said. “I thought we executed well on that man down.”
Milliman was specifically pleased with the performance of junior Ryan Bray overall, but specifically on the clear.
“I thought Ryan Bray was exceptional across the field,” Milliman said. “I don’t know how many clears he had … but just really big ones, key ones like the man down clears.”
With respect to the ground ball game, Cornell absolutely dominated, beating out Syracuse, 43-30.
“[Ground balls] is an emphasis every game,” Milliman said. “When we win ground balls, we have … the best opportunity to win. But we really emphasize tough ground balls … those are the ones we take pride in winning.”
The win is Cornell’s first as a member of the Inside Lacrosse top 10 this season, and, more importantly, the victory shows that this team belongs there.
“We’ve got to make great decisions and move forward because we’ve got a game in a few days against another top-20 team,” Milliman said.
The Red continues its non-conference schedule this weekend when it travels to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania to take on No. 18 Lehigh this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.