Cornell vs. Stony Brook
May 11, 2002
The Game Story:
PROVIDENCE, R.I.. - The last time that the Cornell men's lacrosse team won an NCAA tournament game, Big Red head coach Jeff Tambroni was a senior in high school. Cornell knocked off Virginia 19-6 to reach the 1988 NCAA title game. The 14-year wait is over, as the Big Red crushed America East champion Stony Brook 12-3 to advance to the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament. And the awaiting opponent is none other than those Virginia Cavaliers.

Led by hat tricks from senior Billy Fort and freshman Sean Greenhalgh, a dominant effort in the cage by senior Justin Cynar and a brilliant day by faceoff specialist Addison Sollog, Cornell held Stony Brook scoreless for over 40 minutes to open the game and led by eight goals after the third quarter.

Cornell opened the scoring at 1:24 into the game when senior attacker Billy Fort picked up a ground ball in front of the Stony Brook crease and beat goaltender Steve Armsworthy high to his left. After about 12 minutes of back and forth action, including numerous Stony Brook possessions that ended in Justin Cynar saves, senior midfielder Galen Beers found sophomore linemate Ian Rosenberger for a 15-yard rocket that beat Armsworthy for a 2-0 lead.

The second quarter started in similar fashion to the first, as Fort used a strong individual effort to beat Mike Sakowich behind the crease and score his second goal of the game. Fort took the ball and dodged left and right until the Stony Brook defender didn't have the footwork to stay with Fort. The senior came around the right side of the crease and, despite a slash by Sakowich, scored high for the 3-0 lead. It could have been worse at that stage, as the Sakowich penalty was a one-minute infraction, and Stony Brook followed it up with a 30-second penalty for offsides, but the Seawolves fought through both penalties to keep the score 3-0.

For all of its efforts on the defensive end, Stony Brook wasn't making up any ground because of the tenacious play of the top-ranked defense in the country. Led by first-team All-Ivy selection Ryan McClay and linemates Tim DeBlois and Brandon Hall, the Cornell close defense was making the Seawolves work for every pass and every shot. When they were able to find a crack in the defense, and there weren't many to be found, Cynar was his typical big-game self. The Massapequa, N.Y. native made save after save, leaving the Stony Brook offense empty. He got a little help, as one shot hit the crossbar in the first quarter, and a breakaway attempt by Stony Brook leading scorer Kevin Pall was shot wide.

The Big Red opened the lead to 4-0 later in the half when Cornell's other first-team All-Ivy selection, senior Galen Beers, shot between the legs of Armsworthy. That lead was held until 2:12 into the second half, when Andrew Collins took a pass from Sean Greenhalgh and flicked a shot behind his back before falling into the crease. The goal gave Cornell a 5-0 lead and ensured that the Big Red would start the second half with the momentum it developed in the first half. That momentum grew on a 10-yard unassisted blast by junior midfielder J.P. Schalk, and a team-best 35th goal by freshman attacker and Ivy League Rookie of the Year Sean Greenhalgh.

Stony Brook finally solved Cynar when George LaFlare took a pass from Stephen Conlon and scored with less than five minutes remaining in the half. Greenhalgh made sure the good feelings were short lived, as he scored his 36th goal in unassisted fashion less than a minute later. Collins ended the decisive third quarter with a score off a tough angle at the 13:35 mark. Despite the large lead, Cornell kept applying the pressure in the fourth quarter and scored twice early on tallies by Greenhalgh and Fort. Both recorded hat tricks with those respective goals.

Cornell will now face the University of Virginia next Sunday at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Md. Cornell is 2-3 all-time against Virginia, although the Big Red did win the most recent meeting, a 19-6 decision in the 1988 NCAA semifinal. Four of the five meetings between the two teams have occurred in the NCAA tournament, with both teams winning twice. Virginia is the third seed in these championships. The contest will follow the game between the top-seeded Johns Hopkins Bluejays and the winner of the Massachusetts/Fairfield contest. Johns Hopkins head coach Dave Pietramala, who served as Cornell coach from 1998 until 2000 and led Cornell to its most recent postseason appearance in 2000, was in the press box and watched Cornell's 20th NCAA tournament victory.