Leilani Burke/Sun Staff Photographer

Players prepare for a faceoff in the game between men's lacrosse and Hobart at Schoellkopf Field on Fe. 27, 2024.

March 30, 2024

Men’s Lacrosse Bested by Penn in Double-Overtime Nailbiter

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It was bound to be a memorable matchup from the beginning, as No. 7 men’s lacrosse met No. 14 Penn in a battle for first place in the Ivy League. A high-powered first quarter from Cornell set the tone, but the Red’s offense couldn’t keep up the pace in the tightly contested match.

Ultimately, the Quakers downed the Red, 11-10, in a double-overtime heartbreaker, bumping Cornell down to second place in the Ivy League. Penn’s Cam Rubin scored six goals in the Red’s defeat, while senior attackman CJ Kirst’s five goals weren’t enough to overcome the Quakers.

The first quarter had no shortage of action, as both teams combined for 10 goals in the 15-minute span. Cornell, boasting the third-best offense in the nation, got the quick start it was looking for when Kirst opened the scoring 31 seconds into the contest.

Cornell rode out that momentum, ultimately securing a 6-2 lead in the first 10 minutes. Shortly after Penn evened the score at 13:35, freshman attackman/midfielder AJ Nikolic retook the lead for Cornell with an unassisted tally, followed by Kirst’s second of the game on the man-up. 

Cornell’s man-up offense thus far has yet to replicate its dominance from previous years, as it entered Saturday’s contest ranked 28th in the nation. Of the three man-up opportunities Cornell earned on Saturday, the Red converted on just one.  

Penn interrupted Cornell’s run, but the Red followed it up with three goals in 1:11 to widen the gap — first, senior midfielder Ryan Sheehan scored off a feed from senior midfielder Andrew Dalton, before freshman attackman Willem Firth and Nikolic scored within 34 seconds of each other to bolster the lead.

However, Cornell couldn’t escape the first quarter unscathed, as Penn scored twice — and kept Cornell off the board — in the final five minutes to make it a 6-4 score after a quarter of play.

Unlike the opening 15 minutes, the second quarter was a defensive battle — perhaps something of Penn’s strong suit, as the Quakers rank in the bottom half of the NCAA in scoring offense. However, Penn ranks 14th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing 9.86 goals on average. On the other hand, Cornell hasn’t fared well in defensive-minded contests, as the Red allow more than 13 goals per game on average.

First, Rubin made it a one-goal game at 9:38 in the second quarter. The other second-quarter goal came off the stick of senior midfielder Hugh Kelleher, assisted by freshman attackman Ryan Goldstein, extending the first-year’s red-hot stretch.

Both teams hunkered down in the second quarter and kept it a 7-5 score as the teams headed toward their locker rooms, giving Cornell the edge entering the second half.

Despite two major man-up opportunities in the third quarter, Cornell was outscored and held to just two tallies. After its six-goal first quarter, the Red tallied only four for the remainder of the game.

Back-to-back Quaker goals to tie the game as the third began sent Cornell looking for the lead once more. Senior attackman Michael Long buried a goal to give Cornell a brief lead, but Penn retaliated less than three minutes later to knot the score once more. 

Kirst buried his second of the game with 5:47 remaining in the quarter, giving the senior his 26th goal of the year — and another unassisted tally — to give Cornell the 9-8 advantage.

However, in resilient Penn fashion, the Quakers tied the game right back up as Rubin tallied his fifth goal of the evening off a feed from James Shipley to make it a 9-9 game.

The fourth quarter presented another near-stalemate as each team only found the nylon once in the final regulation frame.

Penn took its first lead of the evening when Griffin Scane beat freshman goalkeeper Matthew Tully 4:10 into the fourth quarter. Trailing for the first time all day, the Red looked to avoid its first Ivy League loss, but the Quakers hunkered down on defense to deter all Cornell chucked its way.

However, Kirst came up big with four minutes left in the game, beating Penn’s goalkeeper Emmet Carroll late to make it a 10-10 game. That score would hold until the buzzer sounded off, ending regulation.

A huge faceoff win to start overtime gave Cornell the first possession of the extra period. A costly turnover right in front of the Penn crease, however, gave the Quakers an opportunity to end the game, but the Red took it right back down the field.

Timely saves by Carroll barred Cornell from securing the golden goal. Carroll robbed Long twice in the waning minutes of overtime to keep the score knotted.

Penn had an opportunity to end the game with possession in the final 45 seconds, but a strong defensive stand by the Red forced another overtime period.

Cornell won the first faceoff of the second overtime, but a Goldstein turnover at 3:08 of double-OT gave the Quakers the ball and a chance to end the contest. Following a Penn timeout, the Quakers set up its offense, and it was Rubin — capping off his double hat trick performance — who beat Tully, sending Cornell back to Ithaca in second place in the conference.

The Red will have little time to reset, as Cornell will be tasked with one of its most formidable opponents on Tuesday. No. 3 Syracuse will come to town and take on the Red to kick off April, as the opening faceoff is set for 7 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field.