In a game featuring two of the top 10 defenses in the nation, it was no surprise that No. 6 men’s lacrosse had a gritty battle from start to finish against No. 7 Army. With seven total penalties and 13 caused turnovers, the game came down to the wire.
The difference came in the final minute of play. Tied at 10, senior midfielder Aiden Blake was able to find the back of the net with nine seconds left in regulation. The Black Knights could not respond, and the Red topped Army, 11-10.
Defense was on display from the get-go, as neither team was able to break through for the first five minutes of play. The Red (9-2, 3-1 Ivy) had a man-up opportunity two minutes in, but was not able to convert.
Cornell broke the scoreless tie with just under 10 minutes in the first quarter, as a pass from senior attacker Michael Long set up sophomore midfielder Alex Holmes in the middle of the box for a top shelf goal.
The Red scored again just seven seconds later. Freshman face-off specialist Jack Cascadden won the ensuing battle at the x and gave it up to senior attacker Billy Coyle, who found Long in the hole for an easy goal.
Four minutes later, Cornell extended the lead to three. Senior midfielder JJ Lombardi got a pass inside to Long, who juggled the ball in his pocket before scoring through contact from just outside the crease.
It was a dominant first quarter for senior goalkeeper Chayse Ierlan, recording five saves. His sole blemish came with just under three minutes remaining, when Ryan Sposito, grandson of legendary Cornell head coach Richie Moran, had an open look on the right side and fired it into the top left corner. The Red ended the first quarter leading, 3-1.
The Black Knights offense began to pick up in the second quarter, as the team converted an opening face-off win into a goal. The Red was able to respond a minute later, when junior attacker CJ Kirst drew a triple team and found junior midfielder Hugh Kelleher open. Kelleher was able to bury a shot from 15 yards out to put the Red back up by two.
Both defenses were on display throughout the first half, and the teams committed 15 total turnovers in the opening 30 minutes. After six minutes of scoreless play, the Black Knights cut the lead to one when a pass across the crease by Paul Johnson set up a quick stick shot from the hole by Gunnar Fellows.
Army (9-2, 6-0 Patriot League) won the ensuing face-off and worked the Cornell defense before finding an open look on the right side. Reese Burek beat Ierlan to tie the game at four.
With just over two minutes left in the half, the Red took the lead back. Working behind the net, Long found Blake in the hole for a quick stick goal.
As the clock ticked to under a minute, the Black Knights had possession with an opportunity to hold for the final shot. Nevertheless, Army was able to convert early into the possession, as Paul Johnson beat his defender from behind the net and got the bounce shot to go past Ierlan.
The Black Knights won the following face-off, and while it did not score, the team drew a penalty on Cornell, setting up a man-up opportunity to start the second half. The game was tied at five after the first half.
Cornell was able to kill the opening man-up opportunity by Army, as Ierlan made a save and clear. Ierlan saved the first three shots on goal by the Black Knights, and had four total in the third.
As they did in the first half, both teams continued to battle and grind in the low-scoring affair. After nearly six minutes of scoreless play, Coyle found junior midfielder Ryan Sheehan in the left side of the hole, who finished in the near 90 to give the Red the lead back.
Two minutes later, Cornell went up by two. A blocked Army shot set up Cornell’s transition offense, and sophomore midfielder Christopher Davis got a bounce shot to go from 10 yards out.
The Black Knights scored once more in the third quarter. After an interference penalty on Kirst, Army was able to cash in on the man-up chance, finishing on a one hop shot from 20 yards out. Cornell took a 7-6 lead into the fourth quarter.
A penalty on Army a minute-and-a-half into the fourth quarter gave the Red a prime chance to increase its lead. The Red worked the ball around the box before junior attacker Rory Graham scored his first goal of the season, putting Cornell up by two.
The Red won the following face-off, and senior attacker Spencer Wirtheim was able to drive to the hole from the right side and finish top shelf through heavy contact.
Penalties proved to be a problem for Cornell all day, as the team committed an uncharacteristic five penalties. One of them came after the next face-off, giving Army another man-up opportunity. The Black Knights took advantage, getting a high bouncing shot to go to draw within two.
With just over nine minutes left in the game, the forecasted weather became a factor. A power issue at Michie Stadium suspended play for 10 minutes.
Coming out of the stoppage, the Black Knights offense came to life. Army rattled off three unanswered goals to take its first lead of the game midway through the fourth.
The Red was able to tie the game up at 10 with three-and-a-half minutes left, as Kirst found Long for his third of the day. In his third game of the season, Long finished with three goals and two assists.
With just over a minute left, the Red got possession and called timeout. Needing one goal to win it, the offense worked the ball around the box.
As the clock approached zeroes, Coyle found Blake, who scored the decisive goal with nine seconds remaining. Army did not have enough time to get a shot off, and Cornell escaped West Point with an 11-10 victory.
Despite losing the face-off and ground ball battle, the Red found a way to win. This is the Red’s fourth ranked win of the season, and helps cement the team as a top seed as postseason play nears.
Cornell has its final road game of the year next weekend, when it travels to Providence, Rhode Island on Saturday, April 22 to take on Brown. The game will start at noon and be televised on ESPN+.