With strong performances on both offense and defense, the men’s lacrosse team clinched the 16th Ivy League title in program history, defeating Brown, 18-5, in rainy Providence, R.I. on Saturday. Cornell (10-2, 5-0 Ivy League) earned at least a share of the regular season title for the ninth consecutive year, and will hold the top spot in the Ivy League postseason tournament, while Brown (5-8, 1-4) will enter next weekend’s matchup with no chance of competing in the second season.
Junior attackman and co-captain Rob Pannell, a Tewaarton trophy nominee, led all scorers with seven points on two goals and five assists, while sophomore attackman Steve Mock and junior midfielder Roy Lang had a game-high three goals apiece.
Among the team’s many goals for this season, winning the Ivy League title represents an important achievement that was finally reached on Saturday.
“That goal of being Ivy League champions is now completed, but being the lone, undisputed champion is what means the most to us,” Pannell said. “More often than not the Ivy League title is shared ... To be the only Ivy League champion I think is what means the most.”
“One of our goals in the beginning of the year was to go undefeated in the Ivy League, and this is the first step,” added senior midfielder Jack Dudley, who finished the game with two goals off the bench. “Fortunately, we were in a position to win it outright.”
Although the scoreboard showed a dominant outing for the Red, the wet and muddy conditions leveled the playing field somewhat, counteracting Cornell’s speed and athleticism. Although they were heavily outscored, the Bears finished the game with the statistical edge in both face-offs and ground balls.
“The conditions played a large part in evening those statistics out,” Pannell said. “I think we forced Brown into a lot of turnovers and we were able to capitalize on our opportunities on the offensive end.”
Reflecting on the poor weather, Dudley applauded the team’s focus on Saturday.
“One of two things can happen — a team can make excuses about the conditions, or they can get excited,” he explained.
Although the Cornell offense has been praised all season long, the defense provided an equally impressive showing against the Bears.
“I think A.J. Fiore played a great game in goal,” Dudley said of the team’s starting sophomore goalkeeper. “The goalie play was huge.”
“I was really impressed with our defense. Guys like A.J. have been improving every week. He was lights-out,” Lang added.
As he’s been all season, senior midfielder Max Feely was solid defensively, forcing two turnovers on the afternoon. Sophomore defenseman Thomas Keith added two forced turnovers of his own to the Red’s defensive efforts.
Cornell took control of the game from the opening whistle, going on a 5-1 scoring run to start the first quarter. Holding the lead coming out of the half, 8-2, the Red went on to outscore the home team by five in the third period to put the contest out of reach.
Brown’s goalkeeper Matt Chriss did all he could to keep the game competitive, making impressive saves on several occasions, but there was no stoppin the firey Cornell offense. As he has all season, Pannell helped facilitate and power the Red’s offensive attack — en route to a game-high five assists — allowing Cornell’s other top scorers to apply constant pressure on the Bears’ net.
With postseason play looming, the team’s consistent commitment and dedication to its specific brand of lacrosse is paying off down the stretch run.
“We can play with the best teams in the country, and I think we’ve shown that,” Pannell said, noting that the Red’s unique style of play is its biggest competitive advantage.
“There are great athletes on a lot of teams ... but on our team a lot of guys have bought into the system,” Lang added. “I think our advantage is that everyone really understands [his] role on offense and defense.”
The Red next takes the field on Saturday against the Princeton. The Tigers, one of the traditional powerhouses of the Ivy League, is coming off a tough loss against Harvard, 9-8, and sports an overall record of 4-7 on the season. The final game of the regular season before the No. 1 Red host the postseason tournament is set to begin at 12:30 p.m. at Schoellkopf Field.