Men's Lacrosse: Tigers top Cornell in OT thriller
With just one second left in the first overtime period of the championship game of the inaugural Ivy League tournament and the score tied 9-9, junior attackman Jack McBride found himself in front of the Cornell net with the balance of the game hanging on his stick. And he did not disappoint.
“[Senior attackman] Rob Engelke told me we didn’t have much time, and I thought that I’d gone right all day,” McBride said. “I figured I’d go left. Then, I think [the Cornell defenseman] thought I was going to roll back, but I went to my left. It’s not my best shot, but I think it surprised them.”
McBride’s goal — his third of the game — gave No. 8 Princeton (11-4 overall, 4-2 Ivy League) its first victory over No. 6 Cornell (10-5, 4-2) since 2008. The 10-9 win secured the Ivy League tournament title for the Tigers and also guaranteed them a slot in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The Tigers had eked out a 7-6 win over a resilient Yale squad on Friday to set up yet another game against the Big Red.
Sunday’s game began with Cornell sprinting to an early lead, just as it had eight days earlier in its 10-9 victory over Princeton at Class of 1952 Stadium. Attackman Ryan Hurley struck first for the Big Red, scoring after less than 15 seconds to put Cornell up 1-0. Attackman Ross Gillum quickly followed suit, adding a goal of his own roughly 5 minutes later to stretch the Big Red’s lead to two.
Unlike in last Saturday’s loss — during which Princeton was held scoreless for the entire first quarter — the Tigers responded to Cornell’s offensive spurt with a goal of their own. With 7 minutes, 59 seconds left in the quarter, freshman attackman Luke Armour beat Cornell goalie AJ Fiore to make the score 2-1.
Armour’s first goal of his college career was not enough to spark an offensive run for Princeton, though, and the Big Red dominated the remainder of the quarter. Attackmen Rob Pannell and Steve Mock each notched goals to make the score 4-1 in Cornell’s favor by the end of the first stanza.
The second quarter went the same way, with the Tigers being outscored and outshot by the powerful Big Red. Cornell took 13 shots to Princeton’s 10, with Hurley and Mock each scoring their second goals to bring the Big Red’s tally to six. The Tigers’ lone goal of the quarter came from freshman midfielder Mike Chanenchuk, who earned his 28th goal of the season to cut Cornell’s lead to four as the first half wound down.
As has been the case numerous times throughout the season, Princeton started to come alive in the second half. The two teams traded goals to begin the quarter, leaving the score at 7-3 with 4:38 remaining in the third quarter. The Tigers then went on a tear, with four different players scoring consecutive goals over the course of roughly 6 minutes. Engelke and McBride each registered goals in the waning minutes of the third stanza, and senior midfielder Scott Mackenzie and junior attackman Chris McBride contributed goals of their own to begin the final quarter and tie the game at 7-7.
“Obviously, we don’t want to play from behind,” sophomore goalie Tyler Fiorito said. “But we’d been in that situation before, and we knew we had a lot of time to come back.”
The two teams kept pace throughout the remainder of the fourth quarter, going goal-for-goal until regulation ended with the game tied 9-9.
The Big Red and the Tigers each had chances to win the game early in the overtime period, but neither squad was able to convert multiple opportunities into a goal. Finally, with only seconds left, Jack McBride rolled left from behind the goal and caught Cornell’s Fiore off guard to get his 33rd goal of the season and secure the win for Princeton.
Head coach Chris Bates was pleased with the team’s performance. “I give our guys a ton of credit,” he said. “We got down early again to these guys but it was a character comeback for us.”
Fiorito echoed Bates’s sentiments. “It [came] one step at a time — one save, one stop, one goal,” he said. “That’s something we’ve tried to do every time we’ve been down: Take it one step at a time, and get back in the game as we’ve done all year. [Everyone] saw our character out there today.”
Bates lavished praise on Fiorito, who had 16 saves in the game and was named the tournament’s Most Valuable Player.
“I think in big games Tyler is at his best, and Cornell puts pressure on you nonstop,” Bates said. “I’ll take Tyler any day, any game. The bigger the game, the better, and today he was huge for us.”
With the win in the Ivy League tournament, the Tigers earn a bid in the NCAA tournament. They will host Notre Dame for the first-round match on Sunday.