This post has been updated.
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Two weeks ago, Cornell men’s lacrosse knocked off then-No. 1 Yale to claim the Ivy League tournament championship. But on Sunday afternoon, the team that took Yale’s place atop the national rankings proved too much for the Red to handle, as Cornell fell to Maryland by a score of 13-8.
Maryland (14-3, 5-2 Big Ten) defeated Cornell (13-5, 6-2 Ivy League) with relative ease on Sunday afternoon at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium. The Terrapins scored the game’s first goal and led for the entirety of the contest thereafter, as Cornell was only able to get within two of the defending national champions.
“I’m sorry to be done this season with this group,” said interim head coach Peter Milliman. “We were hoping we’d get another week together, but I think we made some good plays and some bad plays and at the end of the day left our hearts on the field … I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
Senior goaltender Christian Knight made seven saves in the contest and made his best efforts to backstop his team to a victory, but the Terrapin defense overwhelmed Cornell offense — the second-best in the nation — and the Red was unable to score enough to keep pace.
“[Maryland] did an outstanding job,” Milliman said. “They really earned a victory, played consistent, played strong and did their part.”
The Red saw its fate sealed in the third quarter, when Maryland score five goals to Cornell’s zero, and the Terrapins pulled away with little resistance. The Red entered the fourth quarter trailing 11-4, and, despite Cornell’s best efforts at a comeback, the deficit was too much to overcome.
“At halftime we really wanted to come out and give it all we had in the second half, and usually we’re pretty good [in the] third quarter,” said senior midfielder Jordan Dowiak. “Unfortunately it just didn’t go our way third quarter … But I thought we clawed back in the fourth quarter and we left it all out there.”
Dowiak was the chief engineer behind Cornell’s attempt to turn the tides in the final quarter, scoring three times in a span of less than five minutes. The Red was able to get within four with more than five minutes to play, but that was as close as it would get.
“I’m really happy with how we finished it in the end,” said senior defenseman Jake Pulver. “To keep on clawing back in the fourth quarter, just try to get one goal at a time was great to see.”
Sophomore faceoff specialist Paul Rasimowicz returned to the fray late in the game on Sunday after missing more than four games due to injury, but the FOGO was unable to provide much assistance to the dismal Cornell draw unit.
“[Rasimowicz is] not 100 percent healthy, he hasn’t been for a while,” Milliman said of the decision to keep his top faceoff man out until later in the game. “He manned up at the end of the game and realized that he was just going to have to play through an injury if he wanted to make an impact.”
Ultimately, the Red lost the faceoff battle, 15-9, and the possession battle was tilted heavily in the Terrapins’ favor as Cornell struggled to keep up. Sophomore attack Jeff Teat, the Red’s leading scorer, was held to just two points.
“Not having the ball is a big part of not scoring goals,” Milliman said. “I’m not oblivious to the fact that [Teat is] one of the best players in our game, and we are much better offensively with him touching the ball … The rhythm is definitely a big part of it.”
Pulver led the way on defense for Cornell, matching up with Maryland’s sensational attackman Connor Kelly, and holding him to just one goal on three shots.
The Terrapins earned a place in the Final Four with their victory and will advance to play the winner of Duke and Johns Hopkins later this afternoon.
The loss ends Cornell’s season, which saw it far outpace its expectations en route to laying claim to a championship at the conference’s tournament in New York City. Cornell was picked to finish fifth in the Ivy League and entered the season unranked in the national polls.
“I don’t think any of us had any idea what our expectations were on the field,” Milliman said. “We just wanted to make sure we did it the right way. Cornell is a proud tradition and a proud program and doing it the right way means a lot to us.”
One item on the agenda for Cornell Athletics with respect to the men’s lacrosse program is a decision regarding Milliman’s future with the program. After Cornell’s successful season, the question remains whether Milliman has done enough to be named the full-time head coach and have the interim designation removed from his title.
“I’m excited that I got a chance to coach this team this year,” Milliman said. “We’ll figure out what happens after this, but it is not and it has not been on the top of my priority list.”
Asked earlier this week whether he believed that Milliman was deserving of the full-time job, Knight did not equivocate in his feelings.
“Absolutely,” Knight said. “He’s amazing, he’s done a great job, he really helped us this year kind of change our culture … to get back to where some of the older Cornell lacrosse teams have been.”
Throughout the season, Milliman has pointed to the leadership of the senior class in assisting him throughout his first year in adjusting the culture that ultimately led the Red to the doorstep of the Final Four.
“There’s no doubt that [culture change] was the biggest priority going into this year,” Milliman said. “[The seniors] in every possible way led the charge, led the change and put a great season together of leadership and chemistry.”
To capture his parting feelings, Pulver, a second-year captain, quoted assistant coach Jordan Stevens ’15 who had similar feelings after his final game in Carnelian and white.
“I wouldn’t trade a win today for those memories in the locker room with those guys,” Pulver said. “And I truly believe that. I love each and every one of them … It’s great that we got Cornell back to where it should be and I’m happy that I could do it with them.”