Sports

M. lax defeats No. 8 Cornell, finally gets marquee win

By
Assistant Sports Editor
Monday, April 26, 2010

The men’s lacrosse team rose up to beat No. 8 Cornell, 13-10, Saturday in Ithaca, N.Y. The Bears outscored the Big Red, 9-2, in the second and third quarters, and then survived a furious Cornell rally in the fourth behind stout goaltending from Matt Chriss ’11, giving the program a badly-needed statement victory.

“We’ve played four or five top-15 programs this year and just, just came up short so many times,” said Head Coach Lars Tiffany ’90. “To go to Ithaca to play No. 8 Cornell and to not back down — to compete, really truly compete for 60 minutes is a significant statement that the men and this program have made.”

Brown advanced into a three-way tie for second place in the Ivy League with Cornell and Yale with a 3-2 conference record and a 7-5 mark overall. A win over Dartmouth (5-6, 2-3 Ivy) on Saturday in the regular season finale would guarantee the Bears a spot in the Ivy League tournament.

The Bears came out sharp in Ithaca, where they hadn’t beaten the Big Red (8-4, 3-2) since 2002. Brown won all seven first-quarter faceoffs and as a result controlled much of the action, Tiffany said, but Cornell still led, 4-2 after 15 minutes.

“I know in my time we’ve never won seven faceoffs in a quarter,” Tiffany said. “We took more shots. We had the ball more, but their shots went in, and our shots didn’t. They took a couple good shots, but for the most part, it was really that Matt Chriss got off to a slow start.”

Chriss made only two of his 13 saves in the first half, while Cornell’s A. J. Fiore posted three of his nine saves in the first quarter, but the Bears recovered from the early deficit on the strength of fundamentals.

“We cleared the ball very efficiently,” Tiffany said. “Two years ago when we went to Ithaca, N.Y., it felt like winning the lottery if we cleared the ball. … We did a great job getting the ball off the ground, getting those extra possessions because of our faceoff work and ground ball work.”

The shooters heated up quickly. Dan O’Brien ’12 scored his third goal of the season. Parker Brown ’12 added his first of his three goals, and quad-captain Thomas Muldoon ’10 followed with his second of three goals to give Brown a 5-4 lead with 8:43 left.

Rob Pannell quickly led the Big Red back with two of his four goals, but David Hawley ’11 answered with two goals 47 seconds apart to give the Bears a 7-6 halftime lead.

“We stepped up, (and) we shot the ball really well on a very good goalie,” Tiffany said.
Brown owned the third quarter, getting goals from quad-captain Reade Seligmann ’10, Brown, Muldoon and Johnny DePeters ’13 while Chriss blanked Cornell with four saves to take an 11-6 lead into the fourth quarter.

Cornell ramped up its offense to take 20 fourth-quarter shots, scoring three goals over the first 7:59 to cut the deficit to 11-9. Chriss made two saves over the stretch.

“He was facing a barrage of shots, and he just held steady,” Tiffany said. “Cornell got a few to make it 11-9 with seven minutes to go, and from there Matt was just — it wasn’t going in, he was going to deny it.”

Chriss made five saves over the final seven minutes while Parker Brown and Alex Jones ’13 scored to nail down the victory before Cornell finally beat Chriss with 11 seconds left to produce the 13-10 final score.

“He made some great saves, he kept the ball out of there, he cleared the ball well,” Tiffany said. “I think it was a really good team effort for about three and a half quarters, and then Matt Chriss came in, almost like a baseball reliever — he came in and saved us.”

The Bears will host Dartmouth to close out the regular season Saturday at 1 p.m. on Stevenson Field. Harvard’s (6-5, 2-3) stunning upset of No. 6 Princeton (9-3, 4-1) Saturday set up an exciting final weekend in the Ancient Eight, with five teams competing for the three tournament spots behind the Tigers. Saturday could end with a four-way tie for first place or a five-way tie for second.

Brown simply needs to win to gain a spot in the field, though qualifying with a loss and help from other teams is possible. The Bears could earn the No. 1 seed with a victory over Dartmouth, plus a Cornell win over Princeton and a Harvard win over Yale.

Saturday’s game is special for other reasons. First-year Big Green coach Andrew Towers ’94 — who played with Tiffany and still holds Brown records for goals in a season and a career — will make a fitting return on Alumni Day. It will also be Senior Day, honoring Collins Carey ’10, Matt Shakespeare ’10 and quad-captains Muldoon, Seligmann, Charlie Kenney ’10 and Jake Westermann ’10.

“We have a lot of motivation and drive to continue to play at a high level,” Tiffany said, “to continue to compete for 60 minutes.”