Timmy Xi/Sun Staff Photographer

April 14, 2024

No. 10 Men’s Lacrosse Drops Heartbreaker to No. 1 Notre Dame

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This story will be updated.

7,480 fans packed the stands at Bethpage Federal Credit Union Stadium in Brookville, N.Y., to see a top-10 matchup between two storied programs and rabid fanbases. 

And boy, were they rewarded.

A classic lacrosse game between No. 10 men’s lacrosse and No. 1 Notre Dame took place on the campus of Long Island University. Head coach Connor Buczek ’15’s squad did what it does best — coming from behind — and performed well at the faceoff X.

But it wasn’t enough.

Looking to upend its first No. 1 team since 2019, Cornell lost narrowly to Notre Dame on Sunday, 18-17. After a back-and-forth final frame, an Irish goal with six seconds left ultimately dealt Cornell a heartbreaking defeat. 

Cornell trailed for the majority of the game but retook the lead twice in the fourth quarter. However, a late offensive zone push by the defending national champions cemented their No. 1 status and sent the Red back to Ithaca at 7-4.

The question of whether the scrappy, high-energy Cornell style could hold up against the polished, execution offense of Notre Dame was evident from the first whistle.

Cornell got on the board first when freshman attackman Ryan Goldstein beat Notre Dame goalkeeper Liam Entenmann on the first shot he saw, just 30 seconds into the game. But Entenmann would hold strong after that, forcing Cornell to get creative with its offense and take stronger, contested shots.

Both goalkeepers were tested frequently, facing two of the top three offenses in the nation. Knust made 14 saves for a 43.8 save percentage in the game, while Entenmann made 11 saves for a 39.3 percent clip.

Notre Dame (8-1, 2-0 ACC) scored three quick goals after Goldstein’s opening tally, including a wicked shot by Pat Kavanagh that tied the game at one goal apiece. Kavanagh finished with a 2-2-6 stat line.

Cornell (7-4, 3-1 Ivy) cut into the 3-1 lead on a goal from freshman attackman Willem Firth, who was found all alone to the left of Entenmann and buried it uncontested. From there, though, Notre Dame went on a 3-0 run, before a goal from senior attackman CJ Kirst iced the first quarter.

Down by three, Cornell looked to cut the lead in the second, but Notre Dame’s Jordan Faison converted at the 12:20 mark to make it 7-3. 

The Red assembled a little run of its own on a couple of elongated possessions in its offensive half. First, fifth-year attackman Michael Long fired a low shot that Entenmann missed, before Kirst posted his second of the game to make it a two-goal contest.

Cornell got within striking distance multiple times, but the high-powered Irish offense had an answer for almost everything. Perhaps the biggest surprise of the game — and a crucial part of Cornell’s consistent almost-comebacks — was at the faceoff X. Notre Dame’s Will Lynch entered the game with the country’s seventh-best faceoff percentage, but the combination of senior faceoff/midfield Marc Pysllos and fifth-year faceoff Angelo Petrakis stood tall and gave Cornell much needed offensive possession.

With the 7-5 score, both teams traded goals, as Notre Dame converted twice in between two goals by freshman attackman/midfielder AJ Nikolic — on the man up — and Kirst’s hattrick-clinching tally. 

The end of the second quarter displayed Notre Dame’s uncanny ability to blow the game wide open. The Irish tacked on two goals in the final two minutes to make it a four-goal deficit for Cornell to overcome at the half.

An extra-man opportunity late in the second quarter bled into the third, and Kirst made no mistakes, firing a rocket into the top left corner to make it 11-8 just 32 seconds into the second half.

After yet another faceoff win by Psyllos, Long created a nice setup from behind the net that found fifth-year attackman Spencer Wirtheim, who had no hesitation in his shot to make it a two-goal game. 

Cornell showcased its usual third-quarter dominance, looking confident and poised in both halves of the field. Knust came up big the few times Notre Dame entered Cornell’s D, making five saves in the third quarter, many of them point-blank.

Notre Dame’s Jeffery Ricciardelli broke up the initial Cornell run, but a 4-0 stretch by the Red  — including two goals from Goldstein to secure the hattrick and a tally each from Kirst and senior midfielder Hugh Kelleher (both of which were assisted by Goldstein) — tied the game at 13-all.

Notre Dame closed out the third with a goal from Pat Kavanagh, giving it the edge entering the final frame.

Kelleher made Cornell’s first possession of the fourth quarter worthwhile, firing a rising shot that beat Entenmann high to make it 14-14. Notre Dame got it right back 1:14 later, but a strong offensive possession led to Firth’s second of the game to square the game at 15-all.

After a few defensive stands by both teams — and a handful of clutch saves by Knust on Notre Dame second-chance opportunities — Cornell took its first lead since 1-0 on a beautiful shot from Long. Yet the Red had little time to celebrate, as Notre Dame’s Jake Taylor completed his hattrick and tied the game at 16-16 with 4:01 to play.

The teams traded goals once more, the first being Kelleher’s rocket to make it 17-16 before Chris Kavanagh evened the score for Notre Dame.

A late offensive stay by Notre Dame ultimately proved costly for Cornell, as a long shift resulted in a goal by Ben Ramsey — only his second of the year — with just six seconds left. Cornell lost the ensuing faceoff and watched the final seconds tick down as hopes of upsetting the nation’s top team dwindled away.

The Red will next take the field on Saturday, when it will host No. 15 Harvard in a crucial Ivy League battle. The opening faceoff is slated for noon at Schoellkopf Field.