Red Scores 7 Straight in Comeback
ITHACA, N.Y. – The odds were stacked against it, but the Yale men's lacrosse team put up a great fight in an 11-7 loss to No. 2 Cornell in the second semifinal of the 2011 Ivy League Tournament before 1,635 at Schoellkopf Field.
The No. 20 Bulldogs (10-4), whose season came to an end, came off the bus with a lot of momentum and took a three-goal lead they couldn't hold against the hottest team in the country. Twenty-four turnovers and a number of quality saves by Big Red goalie A.J. Fiore (11 overall) could have been the difference.
Cornell (12-2), which won its ninth straight, faces Harvard (12-8 winners over Penn) at noon on Sunday for the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. Two of the wins (10-8 in New Haven) came against the Bulldogs, who have played the Big Red as tough as anyone in the league.
"We got off the bus hot but couldn't sustain it," said Yale head coach Andy Shay, who has engineered two straight 10-win campaigns. "
Matt Gibson, Yale's first-team All-Ivy pick, led the Elis with three goals on a night his squad was outshot 37-29. No other Bulldog had more than a point. Brandon Mangan, Michael Pratt, Jack Flaherty and Cole Yeager had the other goals.
Yeager, who won 10 of 14 face-offs, and Dylan Levings (6/7) combined to win 16 of 22 on the X but the Elis had too much trouble holding on to it. When Yale lost the ball, Yale goalie Johnathan Falcone (9 saves) usually ended up seeing it coming toward him.
Yale won the battle for ground balls 39-33, led by captain Patrick Coleman's six (Yeager also had 6), but went scoreless on three man-up chances.
Roy Lang, Steve Mock and Mike O'Neill each had three goals for the Red, while Rob Pannell hit the net once and handed out five assists.
After an off-side call nullified a Yale goal, the Big Red got on the board first when O'Neill scored at 13:13. The early turn of events did not deter the Bulldogs from continuing to pound the net, getting the next four - from four different players - and serving notice to the heavily favored Big Red.
Yeager took the ensuing face-off, sprinted down the middle and then bounced one home at 13:06 to tie it 1-1.
The Brian Douglass-Gibson connection helped Yale make it 2-1. Douglass passed from behind the net to one of his favorite targets. The junior attackman dodged and fired low on a stunned Fiore, who didn't know it went in until he saw an official raise his arms.
A great Falcone save ignited the Blue to its third tally. The Yale senior picked David Lau's shot out of the air from a few feet off the crease and then sent it up the field to Pratt. The Eli junior midfielder ran half the field and then veered to the right. He sent a shot over Fiore's shoulder.
A pair of young Bulldogs got in on the scoring to increase the margin to three. Sophomore Andrew Cordia carried from behind the net to the side and then found Mangan open in the left flat. The rookie attackman fired a rising shot over the Cornell goalie's head at 2:28.
The notice served to the Ivy regular-season champions was a wake-up call, which resulted in seven straight Cornell tallies.
O'Neill ended the Red bleeding with 41 seconds left in the opening frame to cut the margin to 4-2, and then his teammate, the Ivy League Player of the Year, took over to carry the comeback. Pannell made a nifty dish to O'Neill that ended up as Cornell's third tally. Pannell tied it at 6:55 by sending one off the inside of the far post.
Mock, who was quite elusive in his dodging, gave the home team its second lead and a two-goal halftime cushion by tallying twice late in the second. Falcone didn't have much of a chance to make the saves on either of the Mock shots.
"They [Cornell] make you play a different speed. We did a great job in the first quarter, but we are still a little young… we turned it over at critical times," said Shay, who finished his eighth season tonight.
Flaherty's off-angle bouncer found the net at 3:22 of the third to temporarily end the Big Red surge and a Yale scoreless streak of 29:06, but the Elis could not recover from the extended home team's offensive outburst.
"Turnovers were pretty bad. A couple of them early on in the second half turned into goals," said Shay.
Filed by Steve Conn, Yale Sports Publicity Director
Matt Gibson image by Rich Barnes