What began as a promising season for men’s lacrosse has quickly turned troublesome. For the third consecutive game, the team found itself trailing its opponent from the get-go. A combination of a dominant performance from Brown’s (8-4, 3-2 Ivy) goalkeeper and a six goal deficit in the first quarter resulted in Cornell’s second straight loss, 13-8.
The Red (10-3, 3-2 Ivy) entered this past weekend as the No. 8 team in the country. With the team’s four-game win streak ending on April 16 against Army, the contest against the Bears presented a crucial bounce-back opportunity.
Following the trend of its previous matchups, the Red found itself in an early hole. Despite having opportunities, with five shots on goal and 12 total shots in the first quarter, the Red was shutout of the period. The Bears was far more successful finding the back of the net, putting up six unanswered goals, including one with just one second left to play. Once again, the Red had a daunting task at hand ending the quarter down, 6-0.
Ultimately, we just got to start faster and we got to get off the schneid and score some goals early in the game, get some stops and from there hopefully the rest takes care of itself,” said Head Coach Connor Buczek ’15. “Against great teams, you can’t dig yourself a hole otherwise you’re pretty much sealed from the get-go.”
While the Brown offense was active in the first quarter, the true story of the entire game was the Bears’ goalkeeper, Conner Theriault. Facing a streaky Cornell offense led by fifth year attacker John Piatelli and sophomore attacker CJ Kirst, Theriault was up to the task. The Brown goalie put on a defensive masterpiece, making 24 saves –– good enough for a .750 save percentage.
“He made some great saves and I think we gave him a few, but ultimately we got to pick our shots better,” Buczek said. “75 percent is astronomical, and so when it comes to what we can do, we just got to be better and work for better and finish when we have the opportunity.”
Nevertheless, the Red was finally able to find its footing in the second quarter. Sophomore midfielder Ryan Sheehan got Cornell on the board, sneaking one into the bottom left corner of the cage.
This got the gears turning, as the Red pitched a shutout of its own in the second quarter. Junior attacker Michael Long beat Theriault with a nifty move from behind the net, while Piatelli notched two of his own. Cornell went into the locker room having put a dent in the Bears’ lead, but still trailing, 6-4.
However, just as the Red got on a roll, Brown shut the door. The Bears returned from halftime scoring three unanswered goals in just under three minutes. While Piatelli was able to respond with his third of the day, Brown closed off any opportunity for a comeback, scoring once more in the third. Heading into the final frame, the Red faced a 10-5 deficit.
Kirst found his first in the fourth quarter, going top shelf past Theriault’s stick for his 38th of the season. Piatelli tacked on two more, one to Theriault’s left and the other to his right, to lead the Red in scoring with five goals.
This was not enough to remain competitive, as Brown was able to match Cornell’s three goals for the quarter. Both teams were unable to score in the final seven and a half minutes of game time, and the contest ended as a win for Brown, 13-8.
“I think we ultimately got to be more patient, more determined to create better shots,” Buczek said. “It’s never a bad thing to shoot a lot of shots, but just going through them, the 56 shots we took, of those I think there was a portion we could have worked for a better look if we were more patient.”
Following this loss, the Red now sits in a five-way tie at the top of the Ivy League standings. The team closes out its regular season with a crucial match on the road against Princeton (9-3, 3-2 Ivy) at noon on Saturday, April 30. With Harvard and Yale squaring off on the same day, the Red can clinch a spot in the Ivy League tournament with a win.
“It’s a playoff game –– we win this, we win a share at least of the Ivy League title and have an opportunity to host the Ivy tournament,” Buczek said. “Obviously Princeton’s a fantastic team, so for us, winning this game means a lot – it certainly ensures that we have some playoff year here coming up.”