(Photo Courtesy of Hunter Martin Photography/Penn Athletics)
ITHACA, N.Y. — Penn attackman Alex Roesner looped around the backside of the cage, drawing attention from more than just his defender. As the Cornell defense shifted in preparation for Roesner’s drive, the Big Red defenders left attackman Adam Goldner unmarked.
Roesner turned his head back behind him and fed Goldner, who was circling the front of the crease. Goldner sank his fourth goal of the day and ran to hug Roesner. That goal — with 17 seconds remaining — was the game-winner in Penn’s 16-15 win over Cornell on Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field.
For much of the game it seemed like No. 5 Cornell (5-2, 0-1 Ivy League), which finished with the advantage in groundballs, caused turnovers and clears, had control. But then came the penalties, lost face-offs, defensive mishaps and turnovers. While the flaws were featured on both sides as Penn trailed 7-2 in the second quarter, Cornell’s errors came at more inopportune times, and the Big Red blew a lead in a loss for the first time this season.
“I don’t think it’s an Xs and Os things right now,” Cornell coach Peter Milliman said. “There’s things that we struggle at but we’re at this point in the season and you know there’s a pretty clear establishment of the type of lacrosse that we can play, but we’ve got to be a different version of ourselves on gameday… We cannot be undisciplined and expect to be winning games on any degree of talent.”
Trailing by five goals early in the second quarter, No. 17 Penn (4-3, 2-0 Ivy League) had its first man-up opportunity. After two Cornell slashing penalties, the Quakers’ Dylan Gergar sent a skip pass to Tyler Dunn on the crease. As Cornell’s defense failed to recover, Dunn faked on right on Cornell goalie Chayse Ierlan before dumping the ball in.
Though one penalty released, Cornell had slashed again prior to Dunn’s goal. Two more man-up opportunities led to two more goals for the Quakers. In less than 40 seconds, Penn had cut the Cornell lead by more than half.
“It was tough honestly at times to get open and get those opportunities,” Dunn said, “but you know you just got to stick to your game plan, off-ball stuff, it’s a lot of off-ball movement.”
Junior Kyle Gallagher’s advantage at the face-off X (20 of 32) helped Penn string together its runs. Though Milliman said Cornell had one of the better days of the season at the X, Gallagher still won some draws forward to himself.
After the Quakers’ fourth man-up goal with 10:13 remaining, Gallagher flung the ball out toward the Cornell goal. Still moving toward the cage, he scooped the ball and ran about 15 more yards before burying the third of Penn’s seven fourth-quarter goals.
In the Quaker’s 6-2 run to end the game, they found open men in various holes in the Cornell defense. Some came down on the crease like the game-winner, other’s came from shots off dodges from Dunn (5G, 1A) and freshman Sam Handley (3, 2).
With the game tied at 15-15, Cornell won the face-off and called timeout. Out of the stoppage, junior attackman Jeff Teat (3, 3) was chased down the alley by several Penn defenders. As three Quakers clamped their sticks down on the star attackman, the ball popped loose. Penn scooped it up and called a timeout of its own before its eventual game-winning shot.
“We really didn’t have a scripted play there,” Goldner said. “It was kind of just we have a minute and you know work for the best shot we could, not really the first shot. I just kind of saw an opening there.”