In a cold April rain the Cornell Big Red came into Princeton and beat the Tigers in classic Ivy League style, good defense and smart possessions. Sophomore goalie Alex Hewitt came up huge for Princeton with 15 saves, but Cornell's ability to keep the ball and stay on the attack proved the difference. With a win against Brown next weekend Cornell can claim the Ivy League crown for the second straight year.
CORNELL'S PRESS RELEASE
PRINCETON, N.J. - Junior David Mitchell (Moose Jaw, Sask.) would score with just over four minutes to play to lead the No. 5 Cornell University men's lacrosse team to a 4-3 victory over No. 6 Princeton this afternoon at the Class of '52 Stadium. With the win, the Big Red improves to 9-2 overall and 4-1 in league play, while the Tigers fall to 7-4 overall and 3-1 in the conference.
Senior Derek Haswell (Skaneateles, N.Y.) would set up the game-winning goal for the Big Red, sending a pass from the left wing to Mitchell, who was streaking towards the goal and one-timed it pass Tiger goaltender Alex Hewit.
Freshman Tommy Schmicker (Rye, N.Y.) would come up big for Cornell, winning the en suing face off, despite a furious double-team by Princeton, to give the Big Red a key possession.
Cornell would lose the ball with just over one minute to play as a double team allowed Hewit to come up with a ground ball. However, Princeton threw the ball away on the clear attempts and was called for a penalty with 42 seconds to play, allowing the Big Red to run out the clock for the 4-3 victory.
Haswell led Cornell with three points on two goals and one assist, while Mitchell scored twice. Junior Eric Pittard (Skaneateles, N.Y.) also tallied two assists on the day.
In net, Cornell's Matt McMonagle (Bryn Mar, Pa.) made five saves for the victory, while Hewit stopped 15.
The Big Red dominated the game statistically, outshooting Princeton, 32-13 and held the edge in ground balls, 24-22. Cornell also held the slight edge in face-offs, winning 6-of-11 attempts. The Big Red went a perfect 16-of-16 on clear attempts and used an outstanding riding effort all game long to hold the Tigers to 14-of-22 on clear attempts.
The contest began with a slow, deliberate pace by both teams as a slippery field slowed down both squads. The conditions led to turnovers on the Big Red's first three offensive possessions, the third of which giving Princeton an opportunity to score in transition, but McMonagle came up with an impressive save to keep the game scoreless. Finally, with 6:19 remaining in the opening period, Haswell took a feed from Pittard on the right side of the goal and sent a low shot to the far post to put Cornell up, 1-0. The sloppy play continued and neither team would score again in the quarter.
The Big Red wasted little time in the second period, scoring just 44 seconds in as a shot by Boulukos ricocheted off of Haswell, but Mitchell scooped up the ground ball and scored from close range to put the visitors up, 2-0. The rest of the quarter featured fantastic saves by two of the nation's top goaltenders as both McMonagle and Hewitt made several brilliant stops to keep the score 2-0 at the half.
Princeton won the face off to open the second half and quickly made the Big Red pay as Jim O'Brien took a feed form Mark Kovler and scored up high just 45 second into the third period to cut the deficit in half, 2-1.
Cornell had an excellent scoring opportunity with less than four minutes to play in the third when Haswell intercepted a pass by Hewit on a clear attempt. The Big Red was not able to convert on the open goal, however, as Haswell's pass to Pittard, who was streaking towards the goal, was broken up by a retreating Hewit. The Princeton goalie continued to stonewall the Cornell offense, making five saves in the quarter, including several point-blank attempts to keep the score 2-1 at the end of the period.
The Big Red started the final period with a man-down situation, but kept Princeton from getting off a shot. The Tigers offense didn't give up, however, and four minutes later Kovler beat his defender, spun towards the goal and bounced a shot through McMonagle's legs to knot that game at 2-2 with 11:17 to play. Less than two minutes later, Alex Haynie would give the home team its first lead of the game, converting from close-range off a pass from Scott Sowanick.
Haswell and Pittard would team up again to tie the game at 3-3 when Pittard sent a pass from behind the cage to Haswell, who sent a worm burner past Hewit with 7:30 to play, setting up Mitchell's heroics.
The Big Red wraps up its Ivy League schedule next as it plays host to Brown at Schoellkopf Filed on Saturday, April 29, at 1 p.m. Cornell can secure its trip to the NCAA Tournament with a victory over the Bears.
PRINCETON'S PRESS RELEASE
Princeton, N.J. -- The Princeton men's lacrosse team, in its game against Cornell Saturday, was outshot by 32-13, shut out in the first half, held to its lowest goal total in 17 years - and nearly won.
Alex Hewit was the reason why.
Hewit made 15 saves and he and the Tiger defense held Cornell, the second-highest scoring team in the country, more than eight goals below its average but still came up just short, falling 4-3 to the Big Red in a taut thriller witnessed by 2,215 soaked fans at the Class of 1952 Stadium.
The win gave Cornell, ranked fifth by the USILA and sixth by Inside Lacrosse, a half-game lead over Princeton (No. 6/7) in the Ivy League race as the Big Red are now 4-1 in the league and the Tigers 3-1. The Big Red would win the league's automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a win over Brown next week, but Princeton would be assured of no worse than a tie for the league title with wins over Darmtouth and Brown the next two Saturdays. Princeton also hosts Rutgers Tuesday night.
"It was tough," said Hewit, who leads Division I in save percentage and played to a .789 save percentage against the Big Red. "We made a strong effort, and we were ready to play. It was a great game. We just came up a little short."
The game came 52 weeks after Cornell defeated Princeton 17-4 in Ithaca to end the Tigers' 10-year reign as Ivy champion. The Big Red scored on their first six possessions and led 10-2 at halftime in that one.
This time around, there would be no offensive explosion. Princeton held Cornell, averaging 12.2 goals per game, to two in the first half, while Cornell's defense was even better, shutting out the Tigers altogether.
"We knew what happened last year," said Princeton coach Bill Tierney. "We lost to this team 17-4. We knew how they could score, and we knew we had to not let that happen to have a chance."
Derek Haswell scored the first goal of the game with 6:19 left in the first quarter, and David Mitchell scored 44 seconds into the second quarter to make it 2-0.
From there, Hewit and the Tigers shut the Big Red out for 36:46, during which time Hewit made 12 of his saves. Still, it looked for a long time that two goals might be enough for the Red.
Princeton's first goal came from Jim O'Brien less than a minute into the third quarter, and it would stay 2-1 into the fourth. Hewit made five saves in the third, all five of which came from point-blank range.
The Tigers managed just 10 shots through the first three quarters as they were hurt by Cornell's aggressive rides that hounded the home team into eight failed clears in 22 attempts.
Mark Kovler, who had assisted on O'Brien's goal, finally pulled the Tigers even with 11:!7 to play, and then Princeton took its only lead when Alex Haynie scored off a feed from Scott Sowanick 1:14 later.
Cornell came storming back, tying the score on Haswell's goal with 7:30 to play and then scoring the game-winner when Haswell assisted Mitchell's goal, a rocket from in front, with 4:02 left.
Cornell's Tommy Schmicker then controlled the face-off but was trapped by four Princeton players near the sideline when an official stopped play because Schmicker had lost his shoe. Cornell was able to retain possession on the restart and then control the ball the rest of the way, except for one final Princeton turnover that came when Hewit picked up a ground ball but couldn't complete a clear.
Princeton's three goals were the fewest the Tigers have scored since a 10-3 loss to Hofstra in 1989. Peter Trombino was held without a point for the first time in his career and saw his 21-game goal-scoring streak end.
Matt McMonagle made five saves for Cornell.