DURHAM, N.C. - The Cornell University men's lacrosse team outscored Duke, 5-1 in the fourth quarter of play to defeat the Blue Devils, 11-7. The win avenges the Big Red's 2005 NCAA quarterfinal loss to Duke as Cornell opens the season at 5-0 for the first time since 1991.
The Big Red got three goals from junior Eric Pittard (Skaneateles, N.Y.) during the critical fourth quarter, including the game-winner, as he led Cornell with five points on the day. Junior David Mitchell (Moose Jaw, Sask.) tallied three goals for the Big Red, while freshman Max Seibald (Hewlett, N.Y.) added two.
Matt Zash and Zack Greer each registered two goals apiece for the Blue Devils, who fall to 6-2 on the season.
Between the pipes, junior netminder Matt McMonagle (Bryn Mar, Pa.) was solid, making 10 stops for the win, while Dan Loftus saved 11 in the loss.
The two teams battled back-and-fourth for the first 45 minutes of play and entered the decisive fourth quarter deadlocked at six goals apiece. Mitchell broke the stalemate and put Cornell back up by one, 7-6, when he drove toward the goal and got off a shot, despite falling to the ground, and beat Loftus down low.
Pittard would make his first goal of the afternoon count, registering the eventual game-winner, as he put the Big Red up, 8-6 with 10:52 to play but Duke would keep the game interesting when Kyle Dowd scored less than a minute later to bring the Blue Devils back within one, 8-7.
That would be as close as it would get, however, as the Big Red would score three more goals in the next two minutes, including two tallies by Pittard, sandwiched around a goal by senior Derek Haswell (Skaneateles, N.Y.) to put Cornell up 11-7 with just over seven minutes remaining in the contest. Cornell got out to the early 1-0 lead on the very first possession of the game when Seibald took a shot that was blocked and the ball fell just outside the crease. Mitchell picked up the loose ball, faked high on the Duke goalie Dan Loftus and beat him down low. Duke evened the game at 1-1 just over a minute later when Zash tallied a man-up goal. Seibald would put the Big Red up, 2-1 when he beat his defender and rocketed a shot that beat Loftus to the high left side.
Despite the Blue Devils dominating the time of possession in the second period, they managed only two goals, thanks to six saves by McMonagle. Both Duke goals came from the stick of Greer within a two minute span. The first goal came when Ryan McFadyen intercepted a Cornell pass and hit Greer in transition, who converted from point-blank range to tie the game at two apiece. Greer would score again 93 seconds later when he picked up a rebound off a McMonagle save and put Duke up 3-2.
Junior Casey Lewis (Clifton Park, N.Y.) pulled the game even at 3-3 when he scored from the right wing a mere 43 seconds into the third period. Lewis' score was set up Pittard who sent a precision pass from behind the cage.
Mitchell regained the lead for Cornell when he picked up a loose ball right outside of the crease and beat Loftus to put the Big Red up, 4-3, with 12:09 remaining in the third period.
The teams would combine for three goals in the next 30 seconds, beginning at the 8:47 mark when Seibald put Cornell up, 5-3, when a strong fake froze his defender and he rifled a shot past Loftus. On the ensuing face off, Brad Ross came up with the ball, went the distance and converted on the other end to pull Duke back within one, 5-4. The scoring frenzy would end when senior Joe Boulukos (Huntington, N.Y.) took a pass from Pittard and beat Loftus over his right shoulder to make it a 6-4 Big Red advantage with 8:17 remaining in the third quarter.
Zash would get his second goal of the day a minute and a half later, pulling the Blue Devils back within one, 6-5, when he scored off a pass from Matt Danowski. Duke would tie the game at six apiece in the closing minutes of the third period when it capitalized on a failed clear attempt from the Big Red. Greer intercepted a Cornell pass in the defensive zone and hit a streaking Dan Flannery who easily converted.
For the game, the Big Red held a slight advantage in shots (35-34) and ground balls (37-35), while Duke won the face-off battle, taking 12-of-21 in the circle. Cornell cleared 20-of -26 attempts, while the Blue Devils cleared 17-of-21. The contest marked the first time this season that the Big Red did not score a man-up goal, going 0-for-3, while Duke converted on 1-of-2 extra man opportunities.
Cornell is back in action this weekend as it plays host to Yale in its Ivy League opener at Schoellkopf Field on Saturday, March 25 at noon.