With :04 left, Cornell’s stud sophomore middy beat Orange senior defenseman Steve Panarelli to the post to score the game winning goal, keeping the Big Red’s record unblemished. In a game wracked by emotional swings of momentum, Cornell figured out how to get the job done and leave with the win. The nearly 5400 in attendance Tuesday evening at the Carrier Dome saw a gem in the Salt City.
Cornell exploded out of the gate, scoring six straight before the Orange snagged a quick man-up goal with :12 left in the first quarter. The Big Red were able to build their lead out to 8-2, getting four of those goals from senior attackman David Mitchell.
But in what would be a theme of the night, it seemed about halfway through the second quarter Cornell began looking disheveled as Syracuse scored almost at will. Lead by back-to-back Greg Niewieroski goals, the Orange took advantage of a 4-0 run to cut the lead to 8-6 Cornell at the half.
The second half was truly one for the ages. Cornell senior attackman Henry Bartlett opened scoring off a feed from fellow senior attackman Eric Pittard. But the Orange put together another four goal run, interspersed by two Cornell goals, to bring the game to at 10-10 tie with 5:36 left in the third quarter.
Tension seeped through the air and the Dome crowd exploded with the emotional twists and turns of the game. A healthy showing of Cornell fans (Ithaca is just an hour southwest of Syracuse), and the growing presence of ‘Cuse students at games provided an almost electric atmosphere to the final minutes of play. By the close of the third quarter, Cornell was holding fast on a 13-12 lead.
It seemed Cornell might close the door with about 11 minutes left in the fourth. After Goals by John Glynn (assist from Pittard) and Casey Lewis gave the Big Red a 15-12 lead. Both teams rushed up and down the field, but miscues and huge saves thwarted scores on both ends.
With four minutes on the clock, conjuring memories of last year’s overtime thrill that went the Orange’s way, Syracuse mounted their comeback. Niewieroski started the push off an assist from Matt Abbott with 3:42 left. Dan Hardy added another 19 seconds later off an assist from Mike Leveille.
After another exchange of possessions, Syracuse found itself with a chance to score and less than a minute to go. After working the ball around and getting very little space for shots, Steven Brooks took it upon himself, rolling in and ripping a shot that found the twine with 28 ticks left.
Off the melee of the ensuing faceoff, Cornell was able to gain a possession deep in Orange territory. Coaches Jeff Tambroni and John Desko exchanged timeouts, and Cornell’s Max Seibald was giving the ball on the low wing with just eight seconds remaining in the game. Once the whistle blew, Seibald broke to the corner, easily beating an out of position Steve Panarelli. With no slide help coming, Seibald was able to layout and tuck a shot right around Syracuse goalie Pete Coluccini for the game winner with :04 left.
The faceoff was a formality, and as the ball rolled loose on the ground, the final seconds ticked off, the Big Red swarmed the field to celebrate their hard fought victory.
Though Syracuse dominated the faceoff X, winning 24 of 34, they could not control the pace of the game. Careless turnovers plagued the Orange yet again, and the offense went from looking automatic to inept, sometimes within two possessions.
Cornell showed they could run with anyone, as well as play the half field game. Though the final score did not show a dominating #1 team, it showed one that could get the job done and figure out a way to hang on and win.
Pittard showed how an attackman can have a very successful day by simply playing smart and being opportunistic. He finished four goals himself, and assisted on another three. Mitchell’s numbers were almost as good, scoring four and dishing two. Goalie Matt McMonagle wasn’t a wall, but he held his ground in many spots, putting up 11 stops.
Though Seibald’s highlight was obviously his last second heroics, it was his ability to assume different roles that spoke to his growing maturity. Usually a major scoring threat, he showed his balance, being satisfied to instead assist three goals and not tally one for himself. But at the end of the game, when his team needed a goal, Seibald assumed the role of the workhorse. With the speed and confidence of his move towards cage, Seibald never seemed to doubt he was going to score.
Niewieroski led all scorers on the day with five goals, while Brooks had three and an assist. The most impressive effort of the day on the Orange side came from Coluccini, who played out of his mind, tallying 22 saves, a few of which he had no business making. The end seemed a bitter but telling sign to the Orange defense: your goalie can have your back all day and make up for mistakes, but he can’t save you every time.
Syracuse stays put, playing Rutgers in the Dome on Sunday afternoon at 1:00. The Orange will need to win out its remaining four games to make the postseason.
Cornell travels to Dartmouth Saturday afternoon for a 1:00 match-up. A win against Princeton the week after should make them the Ivy League Champs, again.
|Greg Niewieroski||(5, 0)|
|Steven Brooks||(3, 1)|
|Dan Hardy||(1, 2)|
|Greg Rommel||(2, 1)|
|Matt Abbott||(1, 1)|
|Patrick Perritt||(2, 0)|
|Kenny Nims||(1, 1)|
|Mike Leveille||(0, 1)|
|Peter Coluccini||22 (0.579)|