Men’s lacrosse put a 13-game non-conference win streak on the line this past Saturday when it hosted No. 12 Army (10-2, 5-1 Patriot League). Similarly to the Syracuse game, the Red fell into an early hole, but it could not recreate the magic it had against Syracuse. Despite a more competitive second half, Cornell ultimately fell to Army, 17-10.
The Red (10-2, 3-1 Ivy) entered this past weekend ranked fourth in the country, as well as boasting a four game winning streak. Coming off a thrilling win on the road against Syracuse on April 11, the team was intent on remaining within the top five of the country.
The match started off similarly to the one against the Orange – disastrously for the Red. After three quiet minutes, the Black Knights took over the first quarter, scoring five goals in under 10 minutes while shutting out Cornell in the period. Once again, the Red found itself at an early deficit, ending the first quarter down, 5-0.
Matters only became worse in the second, when Army opened up with two more goals in the first two minutes. Five of the Black Knights’ first seven goals were unassisted, as they simply controlled possession and consistently beat Cornell’s defense. Faceoffs also played a key role in Army’s success, as it dominated the Red 11-3 at the x in the first half.
“It’s a challenge, it means you’ve got to defend first every time and you’ve got to get stops in order to take control of a game like that,” said Head Coach Connor Buczek ’15 in regard to the Red’s struggles at the x. “It’s a challenge to fight your way back into a game when you’re down and they got out of the gates first.”
The Red was finally able to get on the board after nearly 19 minutes of play and seven goals allowed, when sophomore attacker CJ Kirst nailed a wraparound shot, crossing behind the net before beating the Black Knight’s keeper from just outside the crease. Senior attacker Billy Coyle added on with just under four minutes left in the half, using a man-up advantage from an Army offside penalty.
Junior attacker Michael Long was able to tack on one more Cornell goal before the half, but Army was able to respond with two of its own. The Red went to the locker room down, 9-3.
Coming back from halftime, the Red was able to cut the lead to five goals, when fifth year attacker John Piatelli found an open Kirst from behind the net, who was able to beat the Army goalkeeper stick side. Once again, Cornell kept it within five with just under 12 minutes left in the quarter, when Long made a nice move from behind the net to set up an easy point blank look for Coyle in front of the crease.
However, 10-5 was as close as the Red came to the Black Knights. Army proceeded to shut the door on any Cornell comeback, scoring five unanswered goals in a six and a half minute span to lead by 10. Freshman midfielder Alex Holmes was able to stop the bleeding, coming from behind the cage and firing from just outside the crease. Nevertheless, the third quarter ended with Cornell in a massive 15-6 hole.
Army slowed down its offensive onslaught in the fourth quarter, as it lengthened possessions to run out the clock. The Red was able to score a few garbage time goals, as Kirst secured a hat trick and Holmes found his second.
Piatelli, who leads the Red in scoring this year with 41 goals, got his first of the day with eight minutes remaining. Graduate student Joe Wolf capped off Cornell’s day with 85 seconds left in the match with his first of the season. The late offense was not enough for the Red, as its second loss of the season came by a score of 17-10.
“It’s a wake up call for us – we’ve got to play better, we’ve got to be more consistent with our effort and our tenacity and clean up some of those things in the middle of the field,” Buczek said.
Following this loss, the Red dropped to No. 8 in the national rankings. Nevertheless, it remains in the driver’s seat for the top seat in the Ivy League tournament. Cornell will have to win its final two conference games to secure it, with the first coming up on Saturday, April 23, against Brown at noon at Schoellkopf Field.
“We’ve got to be better off the ground, we’ve got to clear the ball a little better and hopefully be a little better at the faceoff x,” Buczek said. “Those are the three things that are key for us, and get back to the basics realistically on offense and on defense and make sure we’re ready to compete against a very good team.”