Cornell ends Army's run with 14-5 rout

Big Red scores 6 of first 7 goals, returns to Final Four

May 23, 2010|By Edward Lee, The Baltimore Sun

STONY BROOK, N.Y. — — The Cornell men's lacrosse team beat Army at its own game.

Borrowing a page from the Black Knights' playbook, the No. 7 seed Big Red held on to the ball for long stretches, scored when the opportunities presented themselves and stiffened the defense en route to a 14-5 victory Sunday in the quarterfinal round at Stony Brook.

Many in the announced crowd of 10,024 at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium openly supported Army (11-6), but the Patriot League regular-season and tournament champion could not reproduce the magic it used in knocking off Syracuse, the No. 2 seed and 11-time and defending champion, Syracuse in the first round.

"It's pretty disappointing for our guys," said Black Knights coach Joe Alberici, whose team had reached this stage of the tournament for the first time since 1993 and was seeking the program's first trip to the final four. "I'm at a real loss for words. We just came out of a pretty emotional locker room. We've got 43 warriors, and I mean true warriors. Cornell did the things that they had to do in order to win."

Army's downfall had much to do with the Big Red (12-5), who methodically dissected the Black Knights' defense in the first quarter -- which was a far cry from the 12-11 overtime thriller that Cornell escaped with March 6.

Seven of Cornell's eight first-half goals came from shots in the slot or just outside the crease, giving junior goalkeeper Tom Palesky little chance of making the stop.

"We were able to keep scoring goals and play a more complete game," Big Red sophomore attackman Rob Pannell said. "I think Army does like to play our style of game as well, and I think today when we got the early lead, they had no choice but to play catch-up. I think that ended up working in our advantage [with] maybe them taking some shots and chances that they don't necessarily want to take. We were able to sustain that lead and increase on it throughout the game."

The eighth tally came from junior defenseman Max Feely, who picked up a loose ball off the faceoff and raced in alone.

Feely was the one who scored in triple overtime to send the Big Red to the quarterfinals and Loyola home for the summer.

Nerves might have played a role in the beginning of the contest. Army rushed a few shots on its earlier possessions and at one point failed to clear on back-to-back attempts by sailing passes over the heads of teammates.

"We rushed things," Black Knights junior attackman Jeremy Boltus said. "We didn't play within ourselves. We didn't do our best to keep it in the game. We took the first shot instead of the best shot and ran into a hot goaltender."

Meanwhile, Cornell, which earned its third appearance in the national semifinals in the past four seasons, looked composed and was physical enough to win 18 of 31 ground balls in the first half.

A second-half comeback for the Black Knights was doomed when Palesky (11 saves) pulled his groin, crumpling to the turf after attempting to run upfield with the ball as the second quarter ended.

Although Palesky got up and limped off under his own power and did not miss a minute of the second half, he had no lateral movement and was late in trying to stop back-to-back goals by Pannell.

Army could not string together two goals as the Big Red answered every Black Knights goal with a score of its own.

"I felt like every time Army made a play, our guys felt like they believed that they were going to make the next play," Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni said. "I think the experiences that we had throughout the course of the regular season and the Ivy League tournament really helped."

Cornell senior attackman Ryan Hurley and Pannell led all scorers with five points each. Hurley recorded four goals and one assist while Pannell added two goals and three assists. Freshman attackman Steve Mock scored three times, all in the first half.

The Black Knights were paced by senior attackman Tyler Seymour, who recorded one goal and one assist. Notes: The Big Red has won the past six meetings against Army. Cornell improved to 9-1 when scoring 10 goals in a game. The nine-goal loss is tied for third worst in the Black Knights' history. Army lost by 12 goals to Johns Hopkins in 2003, by 10 to Georgetown in 2005 and by nine to North Carolina in 1993 and Syracuse in 1996.

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