Cornell vs. Duke
May 25, 2013
The Game Story:
Box Score

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. – As he headed to the tunnel, an emotional Rob Pannell took off his gloves and threw them into the crowd. Then he tossed his two sticks over the fence. It was the final assist on the playing field for the NCAA's all-time leading scorer.

Cornell's near-epic fourth quarter comeback fell just short as the Big Red's season came to an end in a 16-14 loss to No. 7 Duke on Saturday afternoon in the first NCAA semifinal at Lincoln Financial Field in front of 28,444 fans. Cornell's season ended with a 14-4 overall record.

"It's a heartbreaker today, an absolute heartbreaker," said head coach Ben DeLuca. "I think our coaching staff thought we were very well prepared, and I thought we had a pretty good game plan going in. That third quarter really dug us in a pretty deep hole, put us in a situation where we had to battle back, but again, extremely proud of these young men for fighting back."

Pannell became the all-time leading scorer in Division I history with a seven-point outing (five goals, two assists), but Cornell wasn't able to dig out of an eight-goal deficit in the third quarter, narrowing the deficit to a goal with under a minute to play before the Blue Devils were able to win possession and scored on a chasing defense to put the contest away. He scored three times and assisted on two other scores in the game's final 17:09 as the unseeded Big Red went on an 8-2 run to close the game.

"There's only positive emotions I'm feeling right now," said Pannell in the postgame press conferene. "How proud I am of the 15 other seniors besides myself and the great job they did leading this team and how we battled back in the fourth quarter. I think you saw what Cornell lacrosse was all about there, playing until the final whistle, never giving up. I think we did a great job of that from our seniors on down, and the record is what it is. I'd give up everything I've achieved individually to get a chance to play on Monday."

Even the run that energized the large Cornell contingent wasn't enough to overcome a midgame surge by Duke that saw the Blue Devils go on a 12-1 run, including nine straight scores, to take a 14-6 lead with 2:22 left in the third.

Not many teams could counter a punch like that. Cornell nearly did.

The Big Red offense scored eight of the next nine goals, including five in the span of just 3:38 in the fourth.

"We talked about fighting through the entire 60 minutes," added DeLuca. "That's just an attitude that our program has had from day one. We want to be able to fight as hard as we can and to never quit, and give our guys credit, they never did. We faced a great deal of adversity, but we never stopped believing. We made some plays down the stretch there and brought it close, just ultimately wasn't enough at the end."

Still down 14-7 with a little more than 12 minutes to play in regulation, Cornell goalkeeper AJ Fiore made a huge save on the doorstep to give the visitor momentum. Less than a half-minute late, Pannell found a wide open Max Van Bourgondien. The senior was so wide open he faked twice, then ran toward the goal and buried a bounce shot. The All-America midfielder ended the day with two goals and an assist.

Buczek then scored off a scramble after the Big Red broke up a clear to make it 14-9 to force a Duke timeout. Pannell assisted on another goal, as Connor English caught a pass behind him and shoveled it in with his back to the net to get back within four. Doug Tesoriero, who played first-team All-America faceoff man Brendan Fowler to a virtual standstill, won the faceoff to give Cornell another possession. Pannell took it 1-on-1, beat his defender and dropped the ball into the cage, matching Matt Danowski's NCAA points record of 343. That made it 14-11. Tesoriero again won a faceoff and Pannell rolled the crease and scored on a low shot, breaking the record and getting the Big Red back within 14-12 with 8:04 left. It would be Pannell's final point in a Cornell uniform.

Duke's David Lawson pushed the lead back to three, but consecutive goals by Van Bourgondien and Buczek in the span of 38 seconds made it 15-14 Duke with 53 seconds left.

Duke won the ensuing faceoff and was able to quickly get a score with the goalkeeper chasing with 39 seconds remaining to all but put the game away. Fowler did just that, winning the faceoff and Duke was able to run out the clock on the Big Red's season.

Tesoriero won 11 ground balls and went 15-of-33 at the X, adding an assist to the effort. In the process, he established a single-season Cornell record for ground balls (133). He passed Craig Yaeger's 35-year-old Big Red record. Senior AJ Fiore made 10 saves and had a key interception during the rally, while Steve Mock had a goal and an assist. Connor English scored once, Matt Donovan tallied twice and both Thomas Keith (two caused turnovers, ground ball, assist) and Jason Noble (one ground ball) lifted the team's 16 seniors playing their final collegiate game.

It was Cornell's fourth appearance in the NCAA semifinals in the last seven years.

NOTES
* Rob Pannell scored in his national-best 37th straight game and scored a point in his 72nd consecutive contest.
* Pannell also ended his career with a 22nd career hat trick.
* Pannell graduates as Cornell's career points leader in NCAA tournament games with 55 points (27 goals, 28 assists), surpassing the great Eamon McEneaney (46).
* Steve Mock scored his 60th goal of the season, becoming the first Cornell player to reach 60 goals since Mike French scored 65 in 1976. French scored 60 or more goals in a season three times, but Mock is now the only other Cornell player to reach that total.
* Tesoriero won 11 ground balls, giving him a single-season record of 133, breaking the mark of 127 set by Craig Yaeger.
* With his seven points, Rob Pannell became the NCAA's all-time leader in points with 344. He surpassed Duke's Matt Danowski (343). Danowski is the Blue Devil's offensive coordinator.