Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer

Men's lacrosse celebrates a goal in its game against Hobart at Schoellkopf Field on Feb. 27, 2024.

March 17, 2024

Men’s Lacrosse Shocks Princeton on Buzzer-Beater on Emotional St. George’s Day

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This story will be updated.

Men’s lacrosse’s St. Patrick’s Day matinee was set to be a memorable game long before the players approached the faceoff X.

It was St. George’s Day.

Sunday marked 20 years to the date of George Boiardi’s tragic death. Boiardi, a former captain and cornerstone of the culture of Cornell lacrosse, died on Schoellkopf Field on March 17, 2004 after being struck with a lacrosse ball.

Since then, the Red have honored Boiardi in everything it does — embracing the “hard-hat mentality” Boiardi exemplified during his life, pursuing through hardships with strength and being great teammates.

No. 15 Men’s lacrosse defeated No. 13 Princeton in dramatic fashion on Sunday, 15-14, in an emotional tribute to Boiardi’s death. Sophomore defenseman Matt Dooley controlled possession after holding off Princeton in the last 30 seconds, and ultimately fired a shot past the Princeton keeper with one second left on the clock to secure Cornell’s first Ivy win of the season.

Cornell’s win was highlighted by an outstanding performance from freshman attackman Ryan Goldstein, whose stellar playmaking abilities were on full display. Goldstein notched a hat trick and two assists for five points, which led all Cornell players in scoring. 

Princeton (4-3, 0-1 Ivy) got on the board a minute into the game, firing a shot on freshman goalkeeper Matthew Tully, making his first start for Cornell (4-2, 1-0 Ivy) after relieving junior goalkeeper Wyatt Knust in the Red’s 20-9 loss to Penn State last weekend.

Cornell then retaliated when senior midfielder Hugh Kelleher tucked one past the Princeton goalkeeper to knot the game at one. Kelleher posted an impressive performance on Sunday, securing a hat trick.

59 seconds later, Princeton retook the lead, but a feisty 3-0 run by the Red to close out the first quarter gave it a 4-2 lead. Two Kelleher goals sandwiched a goal from freshman attackman/midfielder AJ, with both goal scorers seeing success by shooting to the Princeton keeper’s stick side.

Those three goals began a 7-0 run for Cornell, as the Red opened the second quarter with four straight tallies to slow the Tigers. First, freshman attackman Willem Firth got it going before senior midfielder Andrew Dalton tacked on another. Dalton’s shot was the result of a beautiful feed from Goldstein.

With an 8-2 lead, Cornell seemed to have the game in control. However, the Tigers — a top-15 squad and reigning Ivy League champions — proceeded on a 10-0 run, keeping Cornell off the board for 10:07 across the second and third quarters. Princeton’s Chad Palumbo led the way with a hat trick for the Tigers, as it roared to a 12-8 lead not even 5 minutes into the third.

However, a goal from — you guessed it — senior attackman CJ Kirst reignited the Red’s flame, and a goal from fifth year attackman Michael Long and two from Goldstein closed out the quarter with the score knotted.

The fourth quarter strayed from the tendencies of the first three, but was not short of any dramatics.

Though only five goals were scored between the two teams, they came at big moments. Two Princeton goals in the first 6:25 saw the Red staring into a two-goal deficit down the stretch. 

First, Long tacked on his second of the game to make it a one-goal game, before Goldstein completed the hat trick to equalize the score.

A costly turnover in Cornell’s offensive zone gave the Tigers possession in the final minute, with more time on the shot clock than the game clock. Needing a stand, the Red’s stifling defense came through, and a caused turnover from senior midfield Kyle Smith led to a ground ball pickup from Dooley with only nine seconds remaining.

Dooley took it the length of the field and fired a rocket, finding the nylon and giving Cornell the go-ahead goal with just one second left on the clock.

The Cornell sideline roared, celebrating with particular vigor — though not just for the buzzer-beating score that marked Dooley’s first career goal. On a day that Cornell has played on only five times since Boiardi’s death, the win was emblematic of the person Boiardi was –– a dedicated player who never quit.

After securing the 15-14 win, Cornell returns to Ithaca with a 4-2 record overall and a 1-0 Ivy League record. 

The Red will be back in action next week when it takes on No. 10 Yale at Noon on Schoellkopf Field.