This article has been updated.
ITHACA, N.Y. – Trailing No. 20 Princeton by one with a minute-and-a-half remaining in the game, No. 6 men’s lacrosse was at risk of having the Ivy Title slip through its fingers. With a raucous Schoellkopf crowd cheering the team on, the Red came out of a timeout, needing a goal to send the game to overtime.
It was Senior Day for Cornell, and fittingly, it was a senior who catapulted the Red to its second consecutive and 31st overall Ivy title. Senior midfielder Aiden Blake scored on the Red’s ensuing possession and, in the sudden death overtime period, went top shelf to secure the victory, 14-13.
“We prepare for these moments all year,” Blake said. “It can really be anyone at any moment, it just happened to be me both times. But we trust anyone and we trust our teammates to make a play.”
The Red (11-2, 5-1 Ivy) struck first in the opening quarter, as senior attacker Michael Long set up a top shelf goal from junior midfielder Ryan Sheehan. Four-and-a-half minutes later, it was Long cashing in, beating his defender with a question mark move before firing a shot into the bottom-left corner.
Cornell grew the lead to four in the middle of the quarter. Senior attacker Billy Coyle contributed to both points, assisting on a goal from junior midfielder Hugh Kelleher before scoring himself off a feed from junior attacker CJ Kirst.
The Red’s defense was dominant in the opening quarter. Senior goalkeeper Chayse Ierlan saved seven of eight shots on goal, with the lone Princeton (6-6, 4-2 Ivy) score coming with a minute-and-a-half left in the period. Senior defenseman Gavin Adler had himself a day in his last regular season game, finishing with three caused turnovers and six ground balls.
“We know we got one of the best in the country, if not the best in the country [in Adler],” said head coach Connor Buczek ’15. “We know when the stakes are highest, we can count on 77 and he had a heck of a game and paced us to that win.”
The Red continued to grow the lead early in the second quarter, scoring two goals in a 15-second span. First Sheehan notched his second of the day, finding space in the middle of the box and firing a low liner.
Cornell won the ensuing face-off, and Coyle set up junior long stick midfielder Walker Wallace for a long pole goal. Wallace’s goal put the Red up by six and had the Schoellkopf faithful in an uproar.
The Red’s high was short-lived, however, as the Tigers roared back into the game. Princeton capitalized on eight Cornell turnovers in the second quarter, scoring six of the final seven goals to close out the half.
The lone Cornell goal within the Tigers’ run came from Kirst, who was able to lose his defender behind the net before wrapping around and scoring. After holding a comfortable lead, the Red went into the locker room tied, 7-7.
The second half started as a defensive battle, as both teams fought to break the tie. After nearly nine minutes of scoreless play, the Red took the lead back, as Kelleher converted on Cornell’s sixth shot of the possession.
The Red won the ensuing face-off, looking to build its lead further. After moving the ball around the box, Kirst used a stick fake to create space before zipping a shot past the Princeton goalkeeper.
After the extended period without scoring, it was a back-and-forth end to the quarter. A low angle score from senior midfielder Spencer Wirtheim was bracketed by two Princeton goals. Cornell took a 10-9 lead into the final 15.
The Red won the opening face-off of the fourth quarter, but pressure from the Tigers’ defense threatened to force a turnover. With the ball about to roll out of bounds, Kirst made a highlight reel play, throwing his stick out to save the possession, wrapping around the back of the net and scoring.
Cornell was unable to put Princeton away early in the fourth, and the Tigers responded with three unanswered goals. The third came with just under eight minutes left in the quarter and gave Princeton its first lead of the game.
Needing a goal to draw even, the Red’s offense struck back on the following possession. Starting at the top of the box, Kelleher rotated around to the right side and fired a low liner into the back of the net.
After four minutes of scoreless play, the Tigers got the lead back. With less than three minutes of play remaining in regulation, Cornell trailed and was in danger of losing the Ivy title.
Nevertheless, with its back against the wall, the Red found a way to prevail. Blake scored the final two goals of the game, and Cornell topped Princeton, 14-13.
“Especially in this league, nothing comes easy,” Buczek said. “Every day is big… credit to these senior leaders, they’ve done an outstanding job sending that sense of urgency and making sure every day is a big day. So when the moments are biggest, we’ve been there.”
Today’s game wraps up the regular season for the Red. Cornell enters the Ivy Tournament as the No. 1 seed and will take on No. 4 Yale on Friday, May 5 in New York City. With its loss today, Princeton enters the tournament as the No. 3 seed and will take on No. 2 Penn.
The Red’s game is set to start at 6 p.m. and will be televised on ESPNU.