Snow flurries were in the air as No. 4 men’s lacrosse (2-0) got set to take on Lehigh (2-1) in its home opener at Schoellkopf Field. In an all around dominant performance for the Red, it held the Mountain Hawks scoreless for the final 42 minutes of the game en route to a 12-5 victory.
The Red opened up the contest on defense after a faceoff win by Lehigh’s All-American Mike Sisselberger. Despite going 14-for-20 on faceoffs in the contest, Sisselberger’s performance was a non-factor in the game’s outcome.
Cornell forced a turnover, and a long shot by senior defenseman Gavin Adler set up the opening goal of the day by senior attacker Billy Coyle.
The Mountain Hawks kept up with Cornell in the first quarter, responding with a goal of its own on the ensuing possession. After junior attacker CJ Kirst put the Red back up with a rocket from 12 yards out, it again took less than a minute for Lehigh to find the equalizer.
Junior midfielder Andrew Dalton had a standout first quarter, assisting on two of Cornell’s goals. The first went to senior midfielder JJ Lombardi on a backdoor cut, with Dalton threading the needle through multiple Lehigh defensemen. Four minutes later, Dalton found junior midfielder Ryan Sheehan, who went top corner on the near 90 to put the Red up by two.
Cornell found itself in trouble when two consecutive penalties by Coyle and freshman midfielder Brendan Staub gave the Mountain Hawks a two man-up advantage. The Red took on the challenge, anchoring down on defense, denying Lehigh and killing the penalty.
With under two minutes left in the first, both teams were able to get quick goals. First it was Kirst finding his third for the Red, before Lehigh was able to respond on the following possession to keep the game within two. Cornell ended the opening quarter leading, 5-3.
Lehigh came back out fast in the second quarter, getting two goals in the first three minutes to knot the game up at five. But as the snow cleared at Schoellkopf, the Red began to heat up.
Kirst secured his second consecutive game with a hat trick just under four minutes into the quarter. This was the first of seven consecutive goals for the Red, as Lehigh did not score again for the rest of the game.
It took just nine more seconds to extend the lead to two, as sophomore midfielder Christopher Davis recorded his first career goal in a Cornell uniform off the ensuing faceoff.
High-level ball movement set up the last two goals of the half for the Red, both coming from Coyle. Cornell was able to consistently find opportunities by moving into open space and making successful passes. The Red went into the locker room leading, 9-5.
The third quarter was all Cornell on both sides of the ball. An opening minute turnover caused by Kirst in the Mountain Hawks’ defensive end set up a wide open senior attacker Brian Piatelli in front of the net for an easy goal.
Less than a minute later, the combination of Kirst and Piatelli forced another turnover in Lehigh territory. Piatelli recovered the ground ball and used a man-up advantage to drive to the box and score his second consecutive goal.
Defense was on display throughout the period, as the Mountain Hawks was unable to crack senior goalkeeper Chayse Ierlan. The Red forced 12 turnovers in the third quarter, giving Lehigh no opportunities to get back into the game.
After more than 13 minutes without scoring, Cornell was able to increase its lead to seven on its final possession of the quarter. Sheehan found Dalton, who stepped into space and fired one into the back of the net with three seconds left. The Red pitched its first shutout period of the season and went into the final 15 leading, 12-5.
The fourth quarter was a defensive battle through and through. The Red remained stout, rebuffing all of Lehigh’s attempts to break its scoring drought. Cornell was also held scoreless in the final period but came away with the decisive win, 12-5.
The game marked the fewest goals surrendered by the Red since its matchup with Lehigh last year, a 9-5 victory. Adler faced just nine shots on goal over 60 minutes, and Cornell forced 32 turnovers.
The Red has just a few days off before traveling to Geneva, NY, to take on Hobart College (1-1) on Tuesday, Feb. 28. The game will be available on ESPN+.