Ithaca, NY (WBNG Binghamton)
In a game that featured two of the most powerful offenses in the nation, the Cornell and Syracuse men's lacrosse teams mustered just three goals each in the opening 30 minutes of Tuesday's showdown. It was the next three goals, coming in quick succession, that made all the difference, and the fifth-ranked Big Red sprinted away with a 12-6 victory in front of 4,354 fans at Schoellkopf Field.
The win was the seventh straight for Cornell (9-1) and extended its nation-best winning streak in home games to 16 games. It was the 700th victory in program history.
Max Van Bourgondien had a career-high four goals to go with an assist, and Roy Lang added three goals for the Big Red, which never trailed in the game. Andrew West made nine saves, and Cornell held the Orange to fewer than 10 goals for the third consecutive meeting between the regional rivals. The last time that happened was from 1980-1982.
The fateful third quarter started in a fashion very similar to the first half, with the Big Red winning a faceoff – its eighth among the first nine in the game.
Roy Lang scooped up the ball near midfield and shed a couple defenders to start a run down the left hash. He uncorked a shot that blistered the upper corner of the net to the far side, and Cornell grabbed the lead for the final time.
Syracuse's next possession ended with Tommy Palasek getting stripped of the ball at the top of crease as he tried to spin through a triple team. The Big Red gained possession and Lang began another solo jaunt up the middle. Again, a shot beat Orange goalie Bobby Wardwell over the left shoulder, this time coming at the 3:12 mark. The run continued 68 seconds later on pretty goal by Matt Donovan off a spinning jump shot. Van Bourgondien drew the assist, and Cornell never led by fewer than two goals the rest of the night.
The way the first half panned out, it was hard to believe the victor would end up with 12 goals. The Big Red's stifling defense was countered by a zone package from Syracuse that effectively kept Cornell from pulling away after early goals.
The Big Red wasted little time jumping out front, with Lang making a solo run from about 25 yard to his left. He then beat Wardwell with a shot just as the double team arrived.
Doug Tesoriero won the next faceoff and the Big Red methodically kept possession for a couple minutes before Steve Mock's bounce shot sailed over the cage. But Cornell kept possession and attacked right away on the restart. Connor English dished to Van Bourgondien to the left of Wardwell, and his shot beat the goalie to the short side to give the Big Red a 2-0 lead just shy of five minutes in. Tesoriero won 14 of 22 faceoffs on the night.
The Orange's next possession followed, but ended prematurely when a stick check by Jason Noble forced Syracuse to scramble, then the Orange took the ball out of the box during a stall warning for a turnover in the 8th minute.
Syracuse's Bobby Eilers took a shot from the left wing that was stopped by West, but the ball caromed out to weak side and was collected by JoJo Marasco. His shot beat West to get the Orange on the board, the score standing at 2-1 with 5:50 remaining in the first quarter.
Tommy Palasek then drew the Orange even about two and a half minutes later. Emerging from behind the net to West's left, he cut to the middle and beat the keeper from close range.
But the Big Red pulled back out in front before the opening frame came to a close. Working patiently against the Syracuse zone, Cornell got its opportunity when Van Bourgondien found space after losing a defender with a spin move. His shot sailed by Wardwell's legs with 46.4 seconds left, giving Cornell a 3-2 lead.
Cornell got its first opporunity on the man-up in the opening minute of the second quarter on an unreleasable one-minute penalty from a hit to the head off yet another Tesoriero faceoff win. But the Big Red came up empty, with its closest threat from Mitch McMichael clanking off the pipe.
No. 13/14 Syracuse (5-5) tied it again on a shot from Derek Maltz that zipped between the legs of West. Tim Desko drew the assist at the 6:06 mark. Cornell was held scoreless in the frame, but led 15-4 in shots and 10-5 in ground balls. Similar statistics developed in the second half, eventually leading to the home side's victory.
After the Big Red surged ahead with the first three goals in thr third quarter, the first man-up goal of the night drew Syracuse to within two at the 7:12 mark. Eilers converted from long range, joining Derek Maltz with a team-high two goals on the evening.
A lengthy Cornell possession was thwarted by a forced turnover, but the Orange was unable to clear and set the Big Red offense back in motion. Van Bourgondien netted his third goal of the game to restore the hosts' three-goal advantage.
The Big Red's first man-up goal came in bizarre fashion after Langton's shot was stopped by Wardwell, but the goalie's outlet was picked off from in tight by Van Bourgondien, and he was able to score his fourth goal of the evening before Wardwell could recover. With 2:10 left in the third, the Big Red now had an 8-4 advantage. West stopped a shot from Eilers on a late Syracuse man-up chance to take the four-goal edge into the final 15 minutes.
The Orange attempted to start a late charge with Eilers' goal from 15 yards 2:25 into the fourth. But that shot was answered in kind by English scoring from a similar spot at the other end of the field 50 seconds later to restore Cornell's four-goal lead.
Syracuse came back again with Maltz's goal from a sharp angle to West's right with 8:14 remaining, but Cornell answered again with a Scott Austin strike on a slow whistle with 5:26 left.
Cody Bremner's man-up goal essentially ended any Orange comeback hopes, then Donovan's goal from English into a vacated goal with 9.8 seconds remaining served as the exclamation point on the evening.