After two difficult losses to Holy Cross and Lehigh last week, the men’s lacrosse team (2–3, 0–1 Ivy) fell just short in a valiant effort against No. 4 Cornell on Saturday in Ithaca, N.Y.
Attackman Conrad Oberbeck ’15 evened the scoring at 7–7 with just under six minutes remaining in the game, but Cornell’s All-American midfielder Roy Lang dodged and pinned his shot in the top right corner only 30 seconds later to put the Big Red (4–1, 1–0 Ivy) back on top. Despite several scoring opportunities, the Bulldogs could not answer and fell, 8–7, to the defending Ivy League champions.
“After a tough week, we had a good week of practice, and it showed out there on the field,” captain Michael Pratt ’12 said. “We played well, but we just came up one goal short.”
The Bulldog defense held the high-powered Big Red offense to its lowest scoring output of the season. Cornell’s vaunted attacking unit, which was averaging over eight goals per game going into the weekend, managed only two in the first half against the Elis. Big Red junior Connor English scored both of these goals.
Defensive coordinator Ryan Polley said the key to the Elis’ defensive success was the combination of outstanding individual efforts and solid team play.
“Peter Johnson ’13 was matched up against a talented freshman and held him scoreless,” Polley said. “He shook him up a little and took him out of his game. Michael McCormack ’13 also had a tough matchup and kept his man scoreless. As a team we did a nice job of playing together and containing what [Cornell] wanted to do offensively.”
The Bulldogs also dominated at the faceoff, winning 11 of 17 draws against a Cornell unit that is ranked third in the nation. Cole Yeager ’13 won five of his eight faceoffs, and Dylan Levings ’14, who is ranked ninth in the country in winning percentage, added six more of his own.
The Elis got a strong performance out of goalkeeper Jack Meyer ’14, who faced a tough challenge against the nation’s top-scoring offense in his second collegiate start. Meyer saved six of Cornell’s 14 shots on goal and anchored Yale’s stingy defense. After the Big Red outscored the Bulldogs 3–1 in the second quarter, Meyer made three big saves in the third period to stop Cornell’s momentum and keep Yale in the game.
“We forced them to shoot from the outside, and Jack Meyer made key saves for us [on Saturday],” Polley said.
On the offensive side of the ball, the Bulldogs got two goals apiece from their three attackmen — Matt Gibson ’12, Brandon Mangan ’14 and Oberbeck. Midfielder Matt Miller ’12 opened the scoring for Yale three minutes into the first quarter on a pass from Greg Mahony ’12. Later in the period, with Cornell leading 2–1, the trio of Bulldog attackmen notched three goals in three minutes, and Yale went into the first break up 4–2.
A three-minute nonreleasable illegal stick penalty gave the Big Red a major extra-man opportunity to start the second period, but Meyer made two of his six saves during that span and the Elis kept Cornell off the scoreboard. Later, in the third period, the Bulldogs had to kill another nonreleasable penalty after long-stick midfielder Jimmy Craft ’14 was flagged for an illegal body check.
Yale was a man down on defense for two minutes this time but once again held the Big Red man-up team scoreless. Overall, Cornell was held to a single extra-man goal during seven minutes of Yale penalties. Polley said the Bulldogs’ effective man-down play was a feature of the defense’s strong showing on Saturday.
Shortly after Yale’s illegal stick penalty expired, English capitalized on the exhausted Bulldog defense for his second tally of the game. Less than a minute later, the Big Red scored its only extra-man goal of the game to equalize at 4–4.
The teams battled back and forth for the rest of the way, but neither was able to pull away. When the Elis took a 5–4 lead, Cornell answered to knot the score at five going into the half. Twice during the second half, the Big Red took the lead only to have the Bulldogs respond with a goal of their own.
Lang’s goal put Cornell up 8–7, and Yale won the faceoff. After a patient offensive possession, Oberbeck’s shot bounced off the post and away from goal. The Elis got another chance to tie the game in the final minute, but Gibson’s shot missed wide, and the clock ran out before the Bulldog’s could get another shot.
Cornell played its third consecutive game without star attackman Rob Pannell, the reigning national player of the year. But the Big Red were still able to force overtime against No. 1 Virginia in last Saturday’s game before losing by one. Cornell lost to the nation’s best team by the same narrow margin, 8–7, by which Yale fell to Cornell.
The Bulldogs go on to play Princeton on Saturday at noon at Reese Stadium. Pratt said the matchup will be a close contest.
“Princeton’s a tough team, all the team’s in this league are tough,” Pratt said. “We just have to learn from our mistakes and keep playing with the same effort and intensity that we had this week and I think we’ll be fine.”
The No. 14 Tigers opened their season Saturday with an 11–4 win over Penn.