Photos by Joe Caulfield
Story by Zach Babo
While the first game’s blowout may have been a surprise to many, some could foresee a potentially lopsided affair in the afternoon’s second contest between Cornell and Virginia. With the big numbers Virginia hung up on its last two opponents, they had the potential for another big day offensively. But Cornell beat them to the punch.
“We knew we needed to get off to a strong start against Virginia,” Cornell Coach Jeff Tambroni said. “We talked a lot about believing with our guys. We heard a lot from the media about how we weren’t supposed to win this game, and I think by starting strong early our players could believe in themselves and play at such a high level. After our first few shots went in, I thought we settled in, and I felt that after the first 15 minutes were behind us, our guys had a positive look in their eyes. We carried the momentum from the first stanza into the next 45 minutes.”
Cornell got another big day out of goalie Jake Myers. Though he only posted eight saves, he stood tall in big spots, never giving up that bad goal that could suddenly swing the tied. He got it going early, eating up a nasty behind-the-back rip from Garrett Billings.
On Cornell’s ensuing possession, Ryan Hurley found fellow attackman Chris Finn for the quick shot. Cornell added an opportunistic one after that. Freshman phenom Rob Pannell tried to force a pass into Hurley who was handcuffed. The ball hit the turf, and the melee began. Jonathan Thomson grabbed the grounder as it squeaked out of the crowd and beat UVa goalie Adam Ghitelman one-on-one. Then, on a man-up, Pannell did connect with Hurley, this time on the doorstep for the 3-0 lead. <,p> Glading got Virginia on the board in his typical fashion. Charging from X, he got a step inside his defender and stuck a shot high. But Pannell would answer, turning the corner on his end and completely losing his defender, allowing him time to set up and shoot.
Over aggressive play and poor sliding plagued the Cavaliers all day. It became a double edged sword as Virginia needed to press more and more to get turnovers and generate offense, but were so often burned by extending and having no one home to help.
At the end of the first quarter Cornell held a 5-1 lead, not to mention all of the momentum and swagger. It almost seemed that the frustrating start coupled with getting punched in the nose early really sapped a lot of the energy out of the Cavaliers. They were generally out hustled all afternoon. Cornell seemed to make some plays on sheer will alone.
“We just seemed a little gassed early,” Virginia Coach Dom Starsia said. “Cornell was clearly carrying the play to us. The big rock started rolling down the hill a little bit, and we just couldn’t get our arms back around it.”
The second quarter was more of the same. Rocco Romero got scoring rolling with a jump shot from the wing. Then as Romero dodged again, the entire defense sucked up field, letting Hurley slip in behind for the quick dish and finish.
Shamel Bratton added a jump shot, slick-dodging goal of his own, but again, Cornell had the immediate answer. First Pannell finished some quick passing work in transition with Chris Lavidas hitting Pierce Durkac, to Austin Boykin, to Pannell for the finish. Pannell then added a helper when he charged from X and hit a cutting Hurley for the score.
UVa had a strong rush in the half’s waning moments, but Myers ate it up, sending the teams to the locker room with an 8-2 Cornell lead.
Johnny Glynn got his name into the scorer’s sheet with the second half’s opening goal. Glynn dodged and hit Chris Finn sitting on the crease for the easy finish. Glynn played valiantly all day, putting in a blue-collar effort between the lines, turning every loose ball and faceoff into a scrappy affair. His numbers were not great at the X, but the heart and hustle were a definite catalyst for his team.
Virginia began to put something together on offense in the third, but Cornell matched every goal. First Glading fed Steele Stanwick in tight for a quick score. But the Pannell to Hurley connection answered right back. Pannell tallied six points on a balanced 3,3 for the afternoon.
“The teammates I have around me allow me to do the job that I do behind the cage,” Pannell said. “Knowing you have guys like Max Seibald, Johnny Glynn, and Rocco Romero at the midfield, and Chris Finn and Ryan Hurley at the attack, they draw a lot of attention as well. When things aren’t going well for me, they can handle the ball, handle the pressure as well. Coming into this game, I just took it like any other game”
Stanwick added another when his man slipped, leaving him alone with enough time to fake Myers out of position for the score. But a Romero blast off a pass from Max Seibald got the score to 11-4. Seibald’s numbers were fairly quite today, but his effort was quantified much like Glynn’s, in hustle, smart decision making, and consummate leadership.
Stanwick got the fourth quarter going, hitting a handcuffed Garrett Billings who somehow got the shot off for a score. But highlighting the over aggressive, poorly organized defensive play of Virginia was a goal by David Lau, who just beat Ken Clausen and then had a clear path to the goal as no one came near him.
Glading added another off a broken clear, as Billings forced a turnover and hit Glading sitting behind the defense on the crease. After about five fakes, Glading stuffed it past Myers. And again Cornell got it right back, this time when Roy Lang grabbed the ball off the ensuing faceoff and charged down field for an easy score when no one decided to play him.
Seibald got a goal of his own, just bulling his way to the middle of the field and muscling up to stick a shot. The goal was empathic of the effort Cornell gave all afternoon.
“We came into this game expecting to win from the get-go,” Seibald said. “Since that last time we played them at Virginia early on in the season, we came out in the first half of that game and played well. We came out kind of slow the second half. I think everyone on our team wanted another crack at them right after that game. We’ve been looking forward to another opportunity to compete against UVa since that day.”
Pannell provided the final footnote of the contest, finishing a David Lau assist for Cornell’s resounding nine-goal victory over Virginia, 15-6.
It will be an all Central New York final now as Cornell and Syracuse face off for the national championship on Monday at 1 p.m. While the Orange are looking for a repeat, Cornell will be playing in their first final since 1988, when they also played Syracuse. The Orange won that contest 13-8.
With both teams making emphatic statements in their semifinals wins, this has the making for an epic final. Much like the group that lead the Orange to a national championship last year, these Cornell seniors are on a mission.
“I’ve never made it through the semifinals before as a player or coach. We’ll rely on our seniors to get on our guys the next few days,” Tambroni said after the game. “We asked our guys to remain focused and to enjoy it for a little while when they see their families, but when we get back on the bus and get back to the hotel, I’m hoping that our staff and our team will get right back on board and prepare for Syracuse.”
Monday’s championship game will be at 1 p.m. and can be viewed on ESPN.
|Danny Glading||(2, 1)|
|Steele Stanwick||(2, 1)|
|Garrett Billings||(1, 1)|
|Shamel Bratton||(1, 0)|
|Adam Ghitelman||5 (0.250)|