It’s not the size that matters; it’s how you use it. The men’s lacrosse team may not have had a sizeable lead heading into the second half on Saturday in its game against Dartmouth; however, the Red built on the 3-1 lead and fended off the Green for a 7-5 finish in front of a crowd of more than 900 fans.
“It was a fun game; we travelled a long trip to Dartmouth and they have a beautiful field and campus,” said senior midfielder J.J. Gilbane. “They have some rowdy fans that made the game very interesting. It was really fun to play my first time at Dartmouth. The fans were wild and it was a blast.”
Despite quality offensive possessions for the Red at the beginning of the game, Dartmouth (2-5, 0-2 Ivy League) was the first to strike in Hanover, N.H., with Brendan Rotanz firing off an unassisted shot with just about five and a half minutes remaining in the first frame. Junior attacker Steve Mock answered less than two minutes later for Cornell (7-1, 3-0), evening the score, 1-1. Mock received the ball from senior midfielder Roy Lang, who dodged the net, faked a shot then popped the ball back to Mock for the equalizing goal.
Junior attacker Connor English gave Cornell its lead for the day — which it maintained throughout the rest of the game — as he took a pass from Lang and rocketed it towards the Green’s net at 11:01 in the second quarter. Senior midfielder Chris Langton finished off the frame, 3-1, with a man-up goal. Langton sent the shot home with exactly five minutes remaining in the first half, after receiving the ball from freshman attacker Matt Donovan. The Red held Dartmouth to a scoreless second quarter; however, the Green rallied and came back with a fighting effort in the third frame.
“Our defense played a pretty good first half,” said senior midfielder Mitch McMichael. “In the second half, Dartmouth was back-against-the-wall, but we had a couple plays.”
Both Cornell and Dartmouth put away four goals in the second half; however, despite the scoring effort it was not enough for the Green to overcome the Red. Langton and Mock scored their second goals of the game, as McMichael and junior midfielder/attack Max Van Bourgondien recorded their first. Donovan picked up his third assist, making him the team’s high-scorer for the day. While the offense was limited to the number of opportunities it could capitalize on in the game, the defense presented a strong wall — making up for some areas where the offense might have dropped the ball.
“[Junior defender] Mike Bronzino had a fantastic game and shut down their No. 1 player,” McMichael said. “He did a great job and [junior defender] Jason Noble, who won the Hammer Award for us this game, did a great job. He’s a rock for us with defense.”
The Red gives a Hammer Award out in every Ivy contest it wins to the person that the team felt was Cornell’s most valuable player in the game. While the defense gave a stronger showing than the offense against Dartmouth, it was not without its faults, according to senior midfielder Scott Austin.
“Our defense didn’t play perfectly, but when you only score seven goals for your team it puts a lot more pressure on the defense, especially where it wasn’t a lack of possession time we had in the offensive end,” he said. “We had the ball; we just didn’t capitalize on those possessions.”
The Red led Dartmouth in shots, 34-24, and ground balls, 30-27; however, the offense struggled to capitalize off of the quality opportunities the team was trying to create. Areas where the Red made up ground were on ground balls and face-offs, where it went 11-15 under sophomore midfielder Doug Tesoriero and McMichael.
“The ground balls are always key number one and what we pride ourselves on,” Lang said. “A lot of credit to Doug.”
“I think that our offense wasn’t able to capitalize off some things we wanted to,” Gilbane said. “Dartmouth played great to give them credit, but I don’t think we played our best. A lot of it I think we can review the film and see what we can work better on ... We need to continue working on shooting and capitalizing when we take those shots.”
Other key players for the Red’s defense included sophomore Andrew West and junior A.J. Fiore — Cornell’s two goalies who combined for eight saves on the day.