Timmy Xi/Sun Staff Photographer

Men's lacrosse defeated Harvard, 15-8, on Saturday, April 20, at Schoellkopf Field. Cornell finishes the season undefeated on its home field.

April 20, 2024

No. 8 Men’s Lacrosse Upends No. 19 Harvard on Senior Day, Secures Ivy Tournament Berth

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This story will be updated.

When Harvard hosted men’s lacrosse in a consequential Ivy League matchup last year, Cornell walked off the field in Cambridge, M.A., sulking and lamenting what had been a weak offensive outing.

This year, in its home finale, the Red made sure not to relive that feeling.

No. 8 Cornell knocked off No. 19 Harvard on Saturday, 15-8, avenging its 2023 loss to the Crimson and clinching a berth in the Ivy League Tournament.

Nine players scored for Cornell, including six with multi-goal games. Senior attackman CJ Kirst, who was recently named a nominee for the Tewaaraton Award, led the way with two goals and three assists on Saturday.

Kirst, though a senior, wasn’t one of the 15 seniors honored after the win. He’ll return next year for one more season donning the Carnelian and White, playing out his final year of eligibility with Cornell. 

Among other impressive performers for Cornell stood junior goalkeeper Wyatt Knust, who made 16 saves on Saturday for an impressive 67 percent save percentage. 

The Crimson (7-5, 1-4 Ivy) got on the board when Logan Ip fired a rocket that blasted past junior goalkeeper Wyatt Knust. Both goalkeepers stood strong for the majority of the first quarter, while Harvard’s defense kept the prolifically offensive Red off the board for the first nearly seven minutes.

Cornell (8-4, 4-1 Ivy) ultimately got on the board when freshman attackman Willem Firth converted on a brief man-up chance for Cornell, knotting the score at one. The Crimson took the lead less than a minute later, but failed to separate itself any further.

The Red then switched on its offense, embarking on a 4-0 run to close out the quarter with the exception of a late Harvard goal with a minute left. First, junior attackman Danny Caddigan converted on the man-up, a result of a minute-long unreleasable penalty from Harvard. Firth then converted on a wicked rising shot to extend the lead, before freshman midfielder Luke Gilmartin and senior midfielder Andrew Dalton scored consecutively to make it 5-2.

Up 5-3 entering the second quarter, Cornell wasted little time getting back on the board. Senior attackman CJ Kirst got in on the scoring around three minutes into the second frame, restoring the three-goal lead.

Knust continued to come up big when Harvard had chances in transition. The Cornell keeper made six saves in the first half and limited Harvard to just three goals. 

Cornell cashed in once more in the second quarter, as freshman attackman Ryan Goldstein converted an unassisted score with 3:10 left in the half, closing out a second quarter free of any Harvard offense.

The Red took a five-goal lead at the 11:33 mark of the third when Dalton tacked on his second of the day. Harvard got one back a couple minutes later, as Knust allowed his first goal in nearly 23 minutes of play.

But Cornell had an answer, as it did all afternoon, as Kirst collected his second goal of the day and 41st of the year off a pass from fifth-year faceoff Angelo Petrakis, making it a 9-4 game. The Red hit double-digits when Firth found senior midfielder Hugh Kelleher, who made no mistakes in finding the nylon for the six-goal lead.

Fifth-year attackman Michael Long became the eighth Cornell scorer of the afternoon when he fired a shot from distance into a vacant Harvard net with just over three minutes left in the quarter. The goal extended Long’s scoring streak to 29 games, the seventh longest in the nation.

It was only a matter of time before Harvard’s Sam King got on the board, and he did so with 1:23 left in the third. King, who beat Knust cleanly, averages the second-most points per game in the nation with 6.09. King, who finished with two goals on Saturday, was marked well by Cornell’s defense in one of the corps’ strongest showings this year.

But the Crimson couldn’t escape the third unscathed –– Kelleher posted his second tally with just 15 seconds left in the quarter to suck the wind out of Harvard’s sails. Cornell capped off yet another dominant third quarter, outscoring the Crimson, 5-2, continuing a year-long trend of dominance for the already red-hot offense. 

Harvard opened the final frame with two quick goals, including one on the man-up. But just 40 seconds after the second of those two, fifth-year attackman Spencer Wirtheim fired a beautiful shot to interrupt Harvard’s offense.

Not only did Cornell’s attack come up big on Saturday, but it did a particularly strong job at halting any Crimson momentum and barring large runs, as it did in Sunday’s game against No. 1 Notre Dame. 

Goldstein and Wirtheim both collected their second goals of the game in the final few minutes, separated by one Harvard goal, taking a 15-8 score to the buzzer. 

The win secures Cornell a spot in the 2024 Ivy League Tournament. The location is to be determined and will be hosted at the No. 1 seed. Cornell is in contention to host, particularly if Princeton defeats Penn on Saturday.

The Red will take the field for its season finale next Saturday, where it’ll take on Dartmouth in Hanover, N.H. Cornell has the opportunity to host the Ivy League tournament with a win.

The opening faceoff is set for 4 p.m.