Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

Men's lacrosse will have to wait another year to win the Ivy Tournament.

May 5, 2023

Men’s Lacrosse Surrenders 22 Goals in Loss to Yale

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With the lights shining brightest in the Big Apple, No. 6 men’s lacrosse fell flat. Going up against a red-hot No. 11 Yale team in the Ivy Tournament semifinal, Cornell struggled on defense and at the face-off x. The Bulldogs’ Chris Lyons was unstoppable on attack, finishing with seven goals, and Yale beat the Red decisively, 22-15.

The Bulldogs (9-4, 3-3 Ivy) jumped out to an early lead, winning the first two face-offs and cashing in on both possessions. It was the lethal duo of Lyons and Matt Brandau scoring to put Yale up by two after a minute of play.

The Red (11-3, 5-2 Ivy) was able to get its first possession on the ensuing face-off, and junior attacker CJ Kirst went top shelf to put Cornell on the board. Despite the rest of the Red’s struggles in the first half, Kirst continued to shine, putting up four goals in the opening 30.

After Lyons responded with his second goal of the day, Cornell bounced back to knot the game up at three. The Red got a pole goal from freshman long stick midfielder Brendan Staub before Kirst used a nifty question mark move to find the back of the net.

Cornell struggled on defense throughout the first half, allowing Yale to consistently find space in the middle of the field and in front of the crease. Lyons finished the first quarter with a hat trick, his third also coming from the hole. The Red trailed the Bulldogs, 4-3, after the opening quarter.

Yale controlled possession throughout the second quarter, winning 10 of 14 face-offs. The Bulldogs won the first four face-offs of the period and converted on all of them, scoring four goals in under a minute of game time. Cornell quickly found itself in an 8-3 hole.

With the game slipping away early, the Red began to fight back. Cornell was able to secure its first possession three minutes into the quarter. After rotating the ball around the box, senior attacker Spencer Wirtheim got a feed pass into the middle to Kirst, who scored from five yards out.

The score from Kirst sparked a four goal run for the Red. Junior attacker Rory Graham scored his second goal of the season on the following possession off a feed from senior attacker Michael Long.

Two minutes later, Kirst struck again with his fourth goal, rolling to his right, shooting right and scoring top left. Freshman face-off specialist Jack Cascadden won the next battle at the x, and senior midfielder JJ Lombardi cashed in with a one-hop shot from the top of the box. Just like that, the Red trailed by one.

Cornell was not able to tie the game, however, and the Bulldogs responded, scoring four of the last five goals to close out the first half. The lone Cornell goal in the run came from senior attacker Billy Coyle, who scored off a quick transition offense following a Cascadden face-off win.

Yale finished the half with two players recording hat tricks –– Lyons and Leo Johnson. The Red went into the locker room trailing, 12-8.

Needing to dig itself out of a hole, Cornell was able to win the opening face-off of the second half. After moving the ball around the box, Wirtheim used a pick from Kirst to drive towards the net and finish top shelf.

Nevertheless, the Red had no answer for Lyons. With a defender draped all over him on the ensuing possession, he was able to get a shot off and beat senior goalkeeper Chayse Ierlan inside.

Lyons’ score was the first of five from Yale in the third quarter, with the Red responding with just one. The Bulldogs’ run included three goals in a 13-second span from 2:50 to 2:37. Cornell went to the final 15 down, 17-10.

The Bulldogs continued to grow its lead to start the fourth. A failed Cornell 10-man ride set up an empty net opportunity, and it was Lyons cashing in for his seventh.

Yale continued to dominate at the face-off x, winning the following possession. This time it was Lyons on the assist, as he fed Thomas Bragg to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to nine.

Cornell looked to make a run in the fourth quarter, but failed to build enough momentum. Coyle, senior attacker Aiden Blake, Kirst and Long all scored to cut Yale’s lead to five.

The Red had opportunities in the middle of the quarter to draw closer to the Bulldogs, but could not convert. With just under three minutes left, Brandau scored his second to put the nail in the coffin.
Graham locked up a hat trick with a man-up goal, but it was too little too late. The Bulldogs got two more empty-net goals from Johnson, who finished with six on the day, and Yale beat the Red, 22-15.

For the Bulldogs, its win over Cornell should be enough to lock up a bid to the NCAA tournament. For the Red, this game raises questions about the defense and face-off unit and puts Cornell’s chance to host an opening round game in the national tournament in jeopardy.

The Red now waits to see what matchup it will draw in the NCAA bracket. The selection show will take place on Sunday, May 7 at 9:30 p.m. It will be broadcast on ESPNU.