This post has been updated.
After a strong start to the season, Cornell men’s lacrosse lost its second game in three outings, as Ivy-favorite and reigning national champion Yale proved too strong for the Red Saturday and came away with a 16-11 victory.
The Bulldogs (4-1, 1-0 Ivy League) opened with the first three goals of the contest and never looked back. In the second quarter, Cornell (4-2, 0-1) cut its deficit to one but fell behind and was not able to muster a run to get back into the game. Yale led in shots on goal, 31-20.
“I think we took a little bit of a step back in our focus and just in general did not look like we were ready to play,” said head coach Peter Milliman. “Yale’s very good at everything, and they challenged us and we didn’t respond.”
A continuing struggle for the Red is the faceoff, where injuries and lack of depth have presented challenges. Unfortunately, Yale’s TD Ierlan, who transferred from Albany last season after turning down an offer from Cornell, continued his reign as one of the best faceoff specialists in the sport, winning 24 of the 30 draws he took.
“I thought we did well enough [on the faceoff] for me to feel like we had what we needed,” Milliman said. “We caused a few turnovers from [TD], we stopped a few of [Yale’s] opportunities on offense. But going 50 percent against him is really about as hard as it gets.”
Sophomore attack John Piatelli continued his standout play for Cornell, notching five points on four goals and an assist. Piatelli has scored at least three goals in all but one of the Red’s games this season.
“[Piatelli is] as consistent as anybody we’ve got,” Milliman said. “He’s really working hard, he’s finding opportunities, he’s making the most of them. I wish we didn’t have to put as much on him right now but we’re not really scoring enough outside of our attack.”
On the other end of the field, TD’s younger brother, Cornell freshman Chayse Ierlan, stood strong in net for the Red in one of the few positive takeaways for Cornell. The rookie goaltender made a total of 15 saves.
“Chayse was pretty good today, he looked solid,” Milliman said. “He was moving well, seeing the ball well, … I just don’t think we were doing a good enough job defensively and we were giving [Yale] too many opportunities in the middle of the field.”
The win gives Yale a lead in the conference to open Ivy League play. If these two teams meet again this season, it will be in either the conference or national playoffs. The Bulldogs and Red are two of the country’s best teams and are surely both eyeing a rematch in the Ivy League championship in New York this May — a stage on which Cornell was victorious over Yale in 2018.
Saturday’s game represented the end of a three-match stretch in which the Red faced three top-5 ranked teams. And despite falling to 4-2 and 0-1 in the conference, Cornell now has the easier portion of its regular-season schedule in front of it. The hope now is that a tough stretch will make the team better and pay off as the meat of the schedule gets underway.
“It’s a tough place to be, starting off the conference 0-1, but everything’s still in front of us, we can make whatever we want out of this season,” Milliman said. “We got two losses to probably two of the best teams in the country, so it’s not devastating by any means, but it’s certainly eye-opening.”
The Red is back in action on Tuesday with an out-of-conference matchup against first-year Division I program St. Bonaventure. Opening faceoff is set for 5 p.m.