Sports

Defensive pressure anchors crucial victory over No. 10 Cornell

Six different players find back of net during third quarter, propel Bruno in front of Big Red

By
Sports Staff Writer
Monday, April 20, 2015

With the battle for the Ivy League title heating up, the No. 13 men’s lacrosse team put on its best showing of the year in a convincing 15-6 win over No. 10 Cornell Saturday. The Bears (10-3, 3-2 Ivy) now control their own destiny and can clinch a spot in the league’s four-team tournament with a win against Dartmouth next weekend. Bruno was led by the outstanding play of goalie Jack Kelly ’16, who made a season-best 21 saves on 27 shots in the team’s strongest defensive performance of the year.

Saturday’s matchup against Cornell (9-4, 3-2 Ivy) “was a huge game for us,” said Alec Tulett ’17. “We brought a lot of energy right from the first whistle, and I think the difference maker was that we maintained and intensified our energy throughout the game.”

On the offensive end, the Bears were driven by Henry Blynn ’16, who connected four times on the day to bring his season total to 34 goals. Dylan Molloy ’17, the nation’s leading scorer, was double-teamed throughout the game, but he still managed to score twice and contribute five assists. Also adding to the attack were Bailey Tills ’16 and Nick Piroli ’15, who each netted two goals.

Kelly anchored the dominant defensive showing, but it was certainly not a one-man effort. Tulett led the team with eight ground balls, while Larken Kemp ’17 pressured the Cornell attackers constantly in the midfield. Tulett cited several other players who were critical to the team’s win as well.

“Special performances in my mind were Will Gural ’16, who went over 50 percent at the faceoff against one of the best (faceoff specialists) in the country, our stay-at-home defensemen Stephen Loudon ’15 and Will Swindell ’15 and our short-stick defensive midfielders Corbin Booker ’15 and Nick Weeden ’15, who shut down Cornell’s attack,” Tulett said.

The Bears got off to a good start in the first quarter, something they have done time and time again this year. After allowing an early goal, Bruno responded with four of its own in a three-minute span, with two goals coming while the Bears were a man up. Blynn was involved in three of the four goals, scoring twice and tacking on an assist.

After holding a 4-1 advantage heading into the second quarter, the Bears’ lead was quickly trimmed to one less than two minutes later. But thanks to Kelly’s stellar play in net, Bruno did not relinquish the lead and kept the Big Red’s momentum at bay. After a nearly 10-minute scoreless stretch, Blynn connected with only two seconds left in the half, handing the Bears a 6-4 lead at the intermission.

The third quarter began Bruno’s most dominant stretch of the game. Though Cornell scored the first goal of the period, the Bears scored six of the next seven to take a commanding 12-6 lead. Bruno’s offensive depth was on full display, with a different player scoring each of the six goals.

Holding a six-goal advantage, Bruno cruised through the fourth quarter. The Bears continued to shut down the Big Red attack and scored three goals of their own to extend the lead all the way to 15-6. The dominant second half proved that Bruno certainly belongs among the best in the Ivy League.

The Bears now look to avoid a setback as they gear up to take on local rival Bryant and then cap off Ivy League play against Dartmouth. Bruno has fallen victim to lesser opponents after big wins earlier this year, but this time the team seems ready for the challenge. With a playoff spot on the line, the Bears cannot afford a slip-up.

“We have learned from our past mistakes,” Tulett said. “We will bring the intensity and energy that we need to beat these teams.”