On May 24, 1975, Cornell men’s lacrosse suffered a tough defeat in the NCAA semifinal at the hands of Navy. It was the end of a season that saw the Red ranked in the top four of the national polls wire to wire. By any objective measure, the 1975 squad had a great year and turned in a valiant effort.
Determined to return to the national tournament, Cornell resumed play on March 20, 1976 and thrashed Adelphi, 24-8, to open its season.
It was looking to be another good year for Cornell. But what the players and coaches on the field that day couldn’t have known is that the win against Adelphi would be the first of many dozens in a row. The grueling final four loss to Navy 10 months prior was Cornell’s last defeat for more than three years.
At Schoellkopf Field this past weekend, the men who made up the greatest collegiate lacrosse team in history were honored in celebration of the 40th anniversary of their unprecedented and unreplicated streak.
The Red went on to win every game in that 1976 season en route to the program’s second national title. Yet, despite the dominance that Cornell showed, biases toward the teams from Maryland and the Mid-Atlantic prevented the team from ever being ranked No. 1 in the polls.
While there was hope that a national championship victory over then-No. 1 Maryland would change that and the pollsters would finally give Cornell and the northeast the respect it deserved — that was not the case.
Cornell opened the 1977 season ranked third and the squad that went undefeated en route to a national championship the year prior was determined to still prove its might. So they went and did it again.
In two consecutive seasons, Cornell had piled up 29 wins, zero losses and two national titles.
When all was said and done, Cornell’s magical run came to an end in the 1978 national championship game, where Johns Hopkins put an end to the Red’s 42-game win streak — an NCAA record that still stands and likely will forever.
The team, honored this weekend, was led by head coach Richie Moran, who led Cornell for 29 seasons, amassing three national championships and 15 Ivy League championships. Moran’s leadership left him regarded as one of the greatest coaches in both Cornell athletics and NCAA lacrosse history.
On the field, Cornell was graced with two of the best to ever play the game, Mike French ’76 and Eamon McEneaney ’77.
French and McEneany each were three-time All-Americans and rank second and third respectively, all-time in career points at Cornell. In 1976, French tallied 65 goals and 40 assists — a 105-point season that remains the highest mark in program history.
McEneany was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and was posthumously honored as the 2012 recipient of the Tewaaraton Legends award, given to a player who competed prior to 2001 and whose level of skill changed the sport.
In his memoir, It’s Great To Be Here, Moran dedicates an entire chapter to McEneany and his impact on Cornell lacrosse history.
French and McEneaney were among the 10 All-Americans at Cornell in 1976, which subsequently became nine in 1977 and 1978.
In the second half of Cornell’s 19-5 win over Brown on Saturday, sophomore attack Jeff Teat tied the Cornell record for most 10-point games in program history — held by French. Though it’s likely that French’s team set records that no Red squad will ever break, Teat and his current teammates are striving to make a mark of their own.