UNIONDALE, N.Y.-About a minute and a half into overtime, junior attackman Chris Finn charged around the cage, got a step on his defender and bounced a shot that found the back of the net, salvaging an 8-7 OT win for Cornell. In a game plagued by tough defense and sloppy play, the Big Red saw this one slipping away as Navy took control, at one point scoring six unanswered goals. But Cornell’s workhorses stepped up when they had to, pushing the game to overtime and an eventual victory.
Cornell struck first, when sophomore attackman Ryan Hurley held the ball at X, waiting on a cut from senior middie Mike Corbolotti. As Corbolotti was about two yards from the crease Hurley hit him in stride, flicking the ball past Navy junior goalie Matt Coughlin.
Sloppy play and loose balls marred the first quarter's action. While both teams effectively doubled and caused turnovers, on the ensuing rushes passes were often errant, catches were missed, and shots were forced. Both teams looked solid on defense, challenging shooters and discouraging dodges. Navy’s defense was particularly tough on shooters near the crease, finishing off anyone who sat on the doorstep.
“When I’m clamping down the ball and I can’t see, “ Coughlin said after the game, “I hear someone getting hit, and I smile in my helmet.”
Hurley scored the Red’s second of the game as he circled up from X, got above the goal and stuck a shot in the top corner. But Navy would answer a minute later, getting on the board when senior attackman Nick Mirabito stuffed in a rebound from junior middie Shane Durkin’s shot.
Cornell got a few good looks inside at men cutting or camped out on the crease, but the Navy defense viscously collapse, breaking up passes and often sending attackers to the turf. The few shots that Cornell did get off from the outside Coughlin tracked well. During the course of the first half he made several key saves to keep the game close when Cornell tried to break it open.
“We know that we have a goalie that we think is as good as any goalie in the nation,” Coach Richie Meade said after the game.
The Big Red got after it quickly in the second, scoring 14 seconds into the quarter when junior middie Max Seibald collected the faceoff and quickly moved the ball up field to senior middie John Glynn, who quickly redirected to Pierce Derkac, the sophomore long-stick middie trailing on the break. Derkac was able to catch and fire, converting the rare long-pole goal.
Cornell built their lead to 4-1 when senior attackman/middie John Espey felt a double coming and skipped the ball across the field to a waiting Chris Finn. Finn took a step up field to gain some space and bounced in the shot. From here Cornell began to relinquish control of this game, allowing Navy to walk right through the door and nearly shut it behind them.
With a three goal lead, Cornell “had the chance to blow it open, but we couldn’t,” Coach Jeff Tambroni said after the game. “That was certainly the turning point, where Navy started to turn it up, and our sticks started to tighten up.”
With 4:07 left in the half, Navy would begin a six-goal run, putting them on the fairer side of a three-goal lead. First, sophomore middie Basil Daratsos carried down the wing, getting a step when Derkac tried to pick his pocket. Daratsos ripped one on the run, beating senior goalie Mike Myers. The Midshipmen buried another when quick ball movement around the wheel had freshman attackman/middie Andy Warner skip the ball out to the wing where sophomore middie Brendan Connors took advantage of time and room and cranked a shot past Myers. Then about 30 seconds later, junior defensive middie Leone Geoff pushed the ball up field on a fast break, hitting Mirabito alone on the crease for the five-hole finish, tying the game at 4-4.
As if the breaks didn’t already seem to be flowing Navy’s way, two fluke goals would catapult the Midshipmen into the lead. As Durkin tried to feed Warner on the crease, the pass deflected off of a Cornell defender, finding the back of the net with 15 seconds left in the half. Then, after a very physical but mostly unproductive third quarter, the aggressive and opportunistic Navy offense would scrounge up another goal. As Myers attempted to clear, just heaving a pass down field, Mirabito sat on the crease trying to cherry-pick. As Myers released the ball it hit Mirabito’s outstretched stick, ricocheting back into the Cornell goal.
As Cornell’s offense became more frustrated, Seibald tried to make something happen. Driving, Seibald saw the slide coming and tried to feed junior attackman Kyle Doctor in the middle, but Doctor could not keep the handle under the ruthless pressure of the Navy D. Fighting for the loose ball, Seibald would draw a penalty. Navy converted their ensuing man-up, their only man-advantage of the game. After some nice ball movement, sophomore middie Patrick Moran buried a cross-cage feed from Mirabito. The Midshipmen now sat on a 7-4 lead.
The fourth quarter truly showed that experience can count for plenty. At the 8:43 mark the Big Red would begin their rally. Seibald pushed the tempo, feeding Glynn, whose shot was blocked. But Espey, who continually put himself in the right place, scooped up the rebound, took a step, and scored.
More sloppy play left both teams producing little. Navy finally got the ball with about 3:30 left in the game and tried to kill the clock, but after winding down a minute, they would turn the ball over. After a timeout, Cornell set up, firing some tough shots that Coughlin handled impressively. But Navy would turn the ball over again with about a minute left, and that was all the opening the Big Red would need.
Cornell scored again as Seibald moved the ball to Glynn, who found Hurley inside for the turn and shoot, 7-6 Navy. Glynn struggled much of the game on offense, loosing the ball, forcing some bad feeds, and not dodging well, but his effort helped cancel out some of those mistakes. Glynn went 7-13 on the faceoff X, coming up with some crucial possessions. He scooped up five ground balls, and while not netting any of his own, he set-up two big goals.
Another huge contribution in the hustle department came from junior long-pole Matt Moyer. Moyer controlled most match-ups he faced, while also making some nice plays in the open field and on the faceoff wings. He gobbled up six ground balls, none more important than the one off the faceoff following Hurley’s goal. After Navy won the face, Cornell scrapped it out to force a turnover. Moyer grabbed the loose ball and moved it to Glynn, who lost it himself before Espey finally grabbed the ball and settled his team down.
Seibald, who was quite all game, looking at times a step slower than what we are familiar with, showed what a player of his caliber can do when his team really needs him.
“I saw an opening to go, it wasn’t there all day so I figured I’d take the opportunity,” Seibald said after the game. “I told John Glynn, ‘just pick for me, I want the ball.’”
With about 20 seconds left in the game, Seibald got the ball above the box line and began a drive. Using his size and speed, Seibald muscled his way down the wing. Finally seeing an edge, Seibald turned and ripped an underhand shot that beat Coughlin low, tying the game at 7-7 with 12 seconds left.
“It was by no surprise that Max held onto the ball and just kept driving until he saw the smallest of opportunities,” Tambroni said after the game. “Max is that kind of guy that wants that pressure.”
Neither team collected a good possession off the next face, taking the game to overtime.
Mitchel Field’s crowd of roughly 1,200 people stood for the duration of the overtime period, tense from the cold and the circumstances. Glynn won the opening faceoff, establishing possession for Cornell. Seibald attempted to make something happen, fighting through two doubles, before settling back into the offense. Corbolotti got off a good shot that Coughlin was able to get a piece of, but he could not control the rebound. Then, as the Big Red offense reset, Finn took the ball from X, sensed he had a step, and aggressively circled up field. Turning the corner, Finn leaped, using his defender as a partial screen, and sent in a bouncer, the game-winner, 8-7 Cornell.
“We were very fortunate to come away today with the win,” Tambroni said after the game. “I don’t think we played well today by any stretch, but I give that credit to Navy.”
With a short week, Cornell will not get a lot of time to work on the kinks from this game. The Big Red host Binghamton at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, 2/26.
Navy, playing in their second overtime game in as many weeks, found themselves on the short end today. The young squad will gain more experience as they host Mount St. Mary’s, Friday evening, 2/29.
“I’m personally very disappointed,” Meade said after the game. “I thought this would have been a great statement for our program…Hopefully we can regroup here and get better.”
|Ryan Hurley||(2, 1)|
|Chris Finn||(2, 0)|
|John Glynn||(0, 2)|
|Mike Corbolotti||(1, 0)|
|Max Seibald||(1, 0)|
|John Espey||(1, 0)|
|Pierce Derkac||(1, 0)|
|Jake Myers||10 (0.588)|