Courtesy: Cornell Athletic Communications
BALTIMORE – As the youngest team in
the Final Four, the Cornell men's lacrosse team knows this season
will be one to build on. The Big Red had its unexpected run to the
national semifinals ended by unseeded Notre Dame on Saturday
afternoon at M&T Bank Stadium, as the Fighting Irish took the
12-7 victory. Notre Dame advances to its first-ever national
championship game, where it will face the winner of the
Virginia-Duke contest. Cornell ends its season with an impressive
record of 12-6.
Notre Dame (10-6) goalkeeper Scott Rodgers was the difference, making 16 saves to keep the Big Red at bay all afternoon despite an advantage in shots (40-32), groundballs (39-31) and face-offs (12-of-13). Neal Hicks and Zach Brenneman added four and three goals, respectively, for the Irish in the win.
Cornell freshman Steve Mock had three goals and added five ground balls, while senior Ryan Hurley posted two goals and an assist. Freshman Mike Bronzino had three caused turnovers and USIL Attackman of the Year Rob Pannell had two assists and six ground balls, while David Lau chipped in two assists. In their final game in a Cornell uniform, Pierce Derkac picked up five ground balls and caused two turnovers with Austin Boykin went 8-for-16 in the face-off circle and picked up three ground balls.
Cornell struck first when Roy Lang found space in the middle of
the field in-between four Notre Dame defenders, took a pass from
Lau, turned and beat Rodgers up high to make it a 1-0 game just
1:27 into the contest.
The teams traded possessions with the Irish getting five saves from Rodgers over the next 10 minutes, but the Big Red defense was solid, forcing multiple turnovers and killing off a 30-second man-up opportunity before three-straight goals by Notre Dame over the final three minutes of the quarter put the Irish up, 3-1, at the end of the first quarter.
The Irish run continued in the opening moments of the second quarter with a goal by Brenneman, but Mock ended a 15:44 scoring drought when he dodged through traffic and caught an amazing pass from Pannell and buried it to make it a 4-2 contest.
A man-up goal by Brenneman restored the three-goal lead to Notre
Dame but a ferocious ride set up a Cornell goal as the Big Red
worked the ball around until Lau found Mock and the freshman
attacker literally put a hole in the net as he made it a 5-3 game
with 3:33 to play in the half.
The teams battled back and forth for the next three minutes and the Big Red killed another 30-second man-up chance but a great individual effort by Hicks gave the Irish a 6-3 lead going into halftime.
Brenneman’s third goal of the game pushed the Notre Dame lead to 7-3 early in the third quarter but once again, Mock cut the lead back to three goals when he took a pass from Jack Dudley, faked high and then beat Rodgers low.
Ross Gillum scored his first postseason goal when he converted on a 12-yard shot, to make it a 7-5 contest with 7:24 to play in the third quarter. The goal was the only one to beat Rodgers from any real distance during the game.
Just as Cornell got some momentum, the two-goal run was ended when concurrent penalties gave the Irish a 6-on-4 advantage for one-minute . An initial shot by was saved by Fiore, but Hicks picked up a rebound and converted for the man-up goal to give his team an 8-5 lead heading into the final quarter.
Steve Murphy gave the Irish its largest lead to that point with a great effort that beat Fiore up high to make it 9-5 with 10:55 to play in the contest.
Hurley made it a three-goal game once again when he took a pass from Gillum, streaked to the goal and beat Rodgers on a bounce shot, but three straight empty net goals over the final 6:08 of the game pushed the Notre Dame lead to 12-6.
An extra man goal by Hurley with 16 seconds to play, off a pass from Pannell, accounted for the 11-7 final.