Cynthia Tseng/Sun Assistant Photography Editor

Men's lacrosse fell in the Ivy League Tournament semifinal after a 13-9 loss to Penn at Schoellkopf Field on May 3, 2024.

May 3, 2024

Men’s Lacrosse Upset by Penn in Ivy Tournament Semifinal Stinger

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This story will be updated.

For the first time in 11 years, 2,212 fans packed the stands at Schoellkopf for an Ivy League Tournament game.

Under the lights, men’s lacrosse took the turf in search of its first appearance in the Ivy Tournament title game since 2018.

It wouldn’t get that.

In a back-and-forth affair in front of a roaring sea of Red, top-seeded and regular-season Ivy League Cornell was upended in the Ivy League Tournament semifinal for the second consecutive year, its offense falling flat in a 13-9 loss to Penn.

Senior attackman CJ Kirst, a pivotal cog in the Red’s offensive machine, tallied just one point –– an assist –– on the evening. Friday also marked the second consecutive game that fifth-year attackman Michael Long missed.

Things started off on the right note for the Red, when freshman midfielder Luke Gilmartin roared down the field and buried a goal just six seconds into the game. Immediately following the score was a faceoff that went to the Quakers and a quick shot on goal that was rapidly gobbled up by junior goalkeeper Wyatt Knust.

Though Cornell dropped its game against Penn earlier this year –– an 18-17, double-overtime loss in Philadelphia on March 30 –– Knust was not the goalkeeper of record in that game. Freshman goalkeeper Matthew Tully played from the opening faceoff until the decider in double-overtime, a game that would mark his last full game between the pipes.

The Quakers retaliated with two goals of their own after Gilmartin’s first-quarter score, the first being Connell Kumar at the 11:01 mark, and the second off the stick of Griffin Scane less than three minutes later to take the lead.

Timely, though, was junior midfielder Alex Holmes to tie the score. Holmes found the nylon for the first time this season with 6:21 left to keep the score squared away.

The Red then had a brief man-up opportunity late in the opening quarter, but it could not beat Emmet Carroll, the Penn senior goalkeeper ranking third in the country in save percentage at a 59.4 percent clip. Carroll finished the game with a season-high 19 saves for a 67.9 percent save percentage, while Knust posted a 47.8 percent save percentage on Friday night. 

Before the quarter’s end, however, Luke Dinola of Penn beat Knust to regain Penn’s lead, prompting a 3-2 score after 15 minutes.

Freshman attackman/midfielder AJ Nikolic opened up the second-quarter scoring with a rip past Carroll, but four out of the next five goals in the frame came off of Penn sticks. 

Thirty-two seconds after Nikolic’s goal, James Shipley beat Knust to regain the lead. Kumar then converted his second of the game to double the deficit, before a man-up opportunity arose for Cornell in search of a response to the Quaker offense.

Man-up specialist junior attackman Danny Caddigan had the answer, burying his 16th goal of the season to make it a 5-4 ball game. 

Caddigan, though a frequenter of the Red’s man-up unit, got more time on the turf Friday night due to the absence of Long. Long played the first 12 games of the season before missing the regular season finale against Dartmouth last weekend. Friday marked his second straight game out.

Reeling in Long’s absence, Cornell allowed Penn to create a run toward the end of the half. Two Penn goals in just over two minutes capped off the first half, sending the Red to the locker room trailing by a 7-4 score. 

Penn fired fewer shots in the second quarter –– just six –– but only two were saved en route to the Cornell deficit.

The Red had more work to do after the opening faceoff of the second half, as Penn scored just 1:25 into the frame to double up Cornell, 8-4. Penn would add another from Ben Smith, his second of the game, but not before freshman attackman Ryan Goldstein tallied his 20th goal of the season at the 12:43 mark.

Goldstein’s fun was quickly spoiled by a Quaker goal 11 seconds later. Penn continued to assert itself on offense, barring Cornell from putting together any substantial runs offensively. Both teams went back-and-forth, trading goals and shifting the momentum.

Cornell got the better of the Quakers in the third quarter, though, as three of the last four goals in the frame were awarded to Cornell. As it has done all year, second-half heroics by the Red shone through under the lights on Friday.

Senior midfielder Hugh Kelleher, who posted a three-point performance Friday night, converted after a stellar pass from senior attackman CJ Kirst before freshman attackman Willem Firth –– the newly-minted Ivy League Rookie of the Year –– picked up his first point of the evening.

Goldstein closed out the third quarter with a rocket of a shot to make it 10-8 heading into the final 15 minutes.

Though there wasn’t much offense in the final frame, the fourth quarter wasn’t short of action. 

Penn unearthed a physical presence in the final quarter, looking to cement an upset. Much of the physicality was unleashed on Kirst, who drew two Penn penalties –– the first being an unnecessary roughness, and the second being a two-minute, non-releasable illegal contact-to-the-head call.

Looking to tie up the game on the man-up, the Red passed around the perimeter with ease, but could not find an answer to Carroll, who collected an easy save to give Penn possession. Ultimately, the Quakers killed the penalty off and drew a slashing call on junior defenseman Jayson Singer.

Penn’s Smith completed the hattrick just after the penalty expired, restoring the Quakers’ three-goal lead.

But without skipping a beat, the Red got it back. After winning a faceoff, senior faceoff/midfielder Marc Psyllos dealt the ball over to Gilmartin, who notched his second of the game, quickly erasing the three-goal deficit just seven seconds later.

After nearly three minutes without a goal, Penn broke the ice. Davis Provost beat Knust for a goal that sucked the wind out of the Red’s sails, restoring the three-goal lead. Tully was subbed in for Cornell for the final 1:55, ending Knust’s day in net. Tully allowed the final goal in his brief stint.

The 13-9 loss forces Cornell to await its NCAA Tournament fate and watch as Penn and Princeton battle for a title on the Red’s own field on Sunday at 1 p.m.