Courtesy of Cornell Athletics

Men's lacrosse celebrates its outright Ivy League regular season title after a 15-10 win over Dartmouth.

April 28, 2024

No. 9 Men’s Lacrosse Secures Regular Season Ivy Title in Season Finale Victory Over Dartmouth

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This story has been updated.

Taking the field one final time in the regular season, men’s lacrosse clinched the regular season Ivy League title in a 15-10 victory over Dartmouth. The win marked the Red’s third consecutive regular-season crown and 32nd in program history.

“To win the last two [titles] outright specifically, … it’s exciting for us,” said head coach Connor Buczek ’15.

And though it was the last time Cornell would take the turf for the regular season, it is far from the last time the Red will play in 2024 — imminently, Cornell will host the Ivy League tournament next weekend, May 3-5. And, regardless of those results, the No. 9 Red are on track for an NCAA Tournament bid.

“It’s exciting to have that type of success,” Buczek said. “[But] the standard’s high here. The expectation is that we are competing and winning those titles and we are at the top of the league year in and year out.”

Saturday’s win over Dartmouth (3-10, 0-6 Ivy) — the only Ivy team winless in its conference — featured a four-goal, seven-point performance from senior attackman CJ Kirst and a hattrick by junior attackman Danny Caddigan.

On the other side of the ball, junior goalkeeper Wyatt Knust fended off any ounce of a Dartmouth attack, making 18 saves on the day for a stellar 72 percent save percentage. Freshman goalkeeper Matthew Tully slotted in for the final 3:05 of the contest and allowed three goals.

“I think [the defensive group has] done an incredible job coming together. … [Knust] has really matured through that whole process and the ups and downs of the year,” Buczek said. “I think we are finally hitting the point [where] that group is playing very unified and together.”

A mere few hours before the opening faceoff, Yale — which had been in contention to host the postseason tournament along with Cornell — lost to Princeton, 15-8. The result sealed home turf advantage for the Red and essentially rendered the result of the Dartmouth game moot.

“I think I’d be lying to say [that] we didn’t know it had happened,” Buczek said. “The nice part was we knew we were going to be home. The reality was, we had an opportunity to win [the regular season title] outright.” 

Nevertheless, the Red (9-4, 5-1 Ivy) came out shooting like there was no tomorrow. 17 seconds into the game, Freshman midfielder Luke Gilmartin collected a rebound and buried it on a dive for a quick 1-0 Cornell lead. Sophomore long stick midfielder/defenseman Brendan Staub notched another score a few minutes later, a goal that awarded senior defenseman Jack Follows his first career point.

Two Dartmouth goals sandwiched a tally from freshman attackman/midfielder AJ Nikolic, before a 3-0 run to end the quarter ensued for the Red — freshman attackman Ryan Goldstein, fifth-year midfielder Aiden Blake and Kirst all found the nylon to give Cornell a 6-2 lead after a quarter of play. 

Nearly five minutes of the second quarter passed before a team got on the board, and that was Dartmouth at 10:07. The Big Green added two more in the second frame, but four goals by Cornell — two each from Kirst and Caddigan — cushioned the Red to a 10-5 lead at half.

The second half was much more evenly contested, as both teams tallied five goals apiece before the final horn sounded. Dartmouth’s attack progressed but was largely stifled by Cornell’s defense, a group that has taken strides over the course of the season to fill the voids left by Gavin Adler ’23 and Chayse Ierlan ’23.

“We’re making the change-ups in our lineup that have been necessary to get us to a point that we are competitive in every game,” Buczek said. “We’ve lost some big pieces and guys that have missed some significant minutes, and the nice part is it’s not a story from you guys — that ‘next man up’ mentality has proved strong within our group.”

While Cornell has been known for its third-quarter offensive prowess, the defensive side of the ball shone through on Saturday. Senior midfielder Hugh Kelleher notched two goals while 10 saves by Knust kept the Big Green off the scoreboard. 

Individual performances and stats were bolstered in the final quarter, as Caddigan and Goldstein capped off their multi-point afternoons while fifth-year attackman Spencer Wirtheim added a goal of his own. Dartmouth tallied five goals in the final frame, but it wouldn’t be enough as Cornell emerged victorious. 

Absent from the Red’s attack, notably, was fifth-year attackman Michael Long. Holding an injury-riddled history, Long missed his first action of the year on Saturday, but traveled with the team to Hanover.

After sealing the outright Ivy League regular season title, Cornell will shift gears to next weekend, where it will benefit under the lights of its own field. 

The Red will take action in the Ivy League Tournament semifinal against Penn on Friday, May 3 at Schoellkopf Field. The opening faceoff is slated for 8:30 p.m.