At a time when collegiate sports are filled with buzzer-beaters and heroics late in the game, the men’s lacrosse team found itself on the unenviable side of that trend over the weekend, falling to No. 6 Cornell in overtime Saturday.
Following a pair of close losses, the Elis (1-4, 0-2 Ivy) looked to rebound once again by defeating a nationally ranked opponent as they had previously done against UMass (2-5). Their task heading into the game was daunting — they had gone winless in Ithaca the last 12 years.
Victory seemed even more improbable as the Bulldogs fell to a quick four-goal deficit within the first 10 minutes of play. The Elis, however, were unfazed by the Big Red’s (5-1, 1-0) dominating start, knowing that retaining possession was crucial in order to turn the game around.
“Cornell came out flying, they were hitting their shots,” attackman Tyler Castertano ’08 said. “But we knew that the best defense is a good offense, so we tried to possess and keep the ball out of their sticks, be patient and get good shots.”
The Elis’ strategy paid off — the visitors scored six straight goals, including two by Castertano, who extended his point streak to 32 straight games. Yale headed into halftime with a two-goal lead yet was unable to keep up the momentum in the second half.
Cornell scored three of the four goals in the second half, sending the game to a decisive sudden-death overtime. But, had Mike Karwoski’s ’09 shot not hit the crossbar with five seconds left in regulation, there would have been no need for overtime.
Instead of becoming demoralized, the Bulldogs refused to let their bad luck affect them in overtime. Castertano even called Karwoski’s near miss a confidence booster, claiming it showed that the game was tied for a reason and said the Elis deserved to be in the position in which they found themselves.
In overtime, the Big Red once again got off to a fast start, winning the opening faceoff and almost scoring right off the bat. Goalie George Carafides ’08, who had 13 saves on the day, kept the Elis in the game with two saves in overtime, but he was unable to stop Cornell’s Ryan Hurley’s shot 1.3 seconds before the final buzzer sounded.
As tough as it may be to draw positives from such a heartbreaking loss, the team recognizes the accomplishment of its close games with national powerhouses UMBC, Penn and especially Cornell.
“Although this is a really tough loss to stomach,” middie Matt Fuchs ’10 said, “we played well, much more to our potential. We know that we can play with a lot of teams on our schedule — we just have to start finishing these close games.”
The Elis have now lost four games by a combined six goals. Despite the frustration of being on the losing side of so many close affairs, attackman Brendan Gibson ’10 said, the squad remains positive.
“Our losses can be attributed to a little bit of bad luck,” he said. “But it’s also the little things that come back to haunt us. If we fix them we’ll have an opportunity to turn around our season.”
Yale will take a break from the tough Ivy League schedule to welcome Hartford to Reese Field at 7 p.m. on Tuesday.