PRINCETON, N.J. -- Cornell was trying to rekindle the spirit of an old tradition while Albany was trying to start a new one.
Both teams achieved their goals, but it was Cornell that came away with a 12-11 overtime victory against Albany yesterday in a thrilling Division I men's lacrosse quarterfinal at Princeton Stadium.
Midfielder John Glynn scored from the top of the crease on an assist from attackman Eric Pittard, who had five assists in the game, with 4.8 seconds remaining in the four-minute, sudden-death overtime period to lift the Big Red to its first final four appearance since 1988.
Albany (15-3) had tied the game at 11 when midfielder Jordan Levine beat defenseman Matt Moyer with 17.8 seconds remaining in regulation. The Great Danes won the opening faceoff of overtime but failed to convert on several scoring opportunities.
Pittard took a pass outside the restraining box and right of the goal with 18 seconds left in overtime. Once he started toward the goal, Albany's defense slid toward him and Pittard lofted a pass underneath to Glynn standing at the top of the crease. The goal touched off a wild celebration for the Big Red (15-0) and coach Jeff Tambroni. In six previous seasons, Tambroni's teams had made four quarterfinal appearances but never made it out of the round.
"We dug in and handled some adverse situations today," Tambroni said. "This will be our first final four in an awful long time. We've done a lot of growing together to get to this point, and I'm proud for our team, and thrilled for our seniors and Cornell."
When he first caught the ball, Pittard looked as though he didn't know how much time was remaining. Nearly eight seconds had elapsed before he decided to make his move toward the goal.
"The whole time I heard John saying, `Go to the net. Go to the net,'" Pittard said. "I looked up at the clock and there were 10 seconds left. I saw Johnny's man slide to me, and Johnny finished the shot."
But Albany is far from finished. The Great Danes should be among the nation's best again next year.
When it was over yesterday, Cornell won because it converted the last shot, but Albany had gained a great deal of respect.
"That's the way the game was meant to be played," Albany coach Scott Marr said. "Up and down the field. No slowing down. For a long time during the season, probably like seven weeks, we were the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the country, and today you saw why we were the top two teams."
In the end, Cornell survived because of a four-goal spurt early in the third quarter and because the Big Red had fewer turnovers in the second half.
Albany had taken a 7-5 lead just 17 seconds into the third quarter when Levine scored, but Cornell, led by midfielder Max Seibald, rallied with three goals within a 25-second span.
Cornell led 10-9 at the end of the third quarter, and it left Albany rattled. The Great Danes had five turnovers in the third period and six in the fourth. They still found enough poise to stay in the game, at the same time setting the tone for the future.
"That was one of our main goals coming in when the coach recruited us," senior attackman Frank Resetarits said. "We wanted to help establish the program here, and I think we did." email@example.com
Albany 3 3 3 2 0 - 11
Cornell 2 3 5 1 1 - 12
Goals: A-Alpizar 3, Merrick 2, Levine 2, Small, Wolf, Resetarits, Schongar. C-Mitchell 4, Pittard 2, Seibald 2, Lewis 2, Glynn, Bartlett. Assists: A-Alpizar, Ammann, Small, Wolf. C-Pittard 5, Seibald, Espey, Glynn. Saves: A-Queener 14, McKeon 1. C-McMonagle 12.