For the Cornell men’s lacrosse team, it has been the Rob Pannell-Steve Mock show. Unfortunately for Maryland, Sunday afternoon was no different as the Terps fell to the Big Red 16-8 in the opening round of the NCAA lacrosse tournament.
Pannell accounted for seven points (four goals & three assists) and Mock scored four goals on the afternoon to lead Cornell. Attacker Owen Blye (one goal & one assist) and midfielder Kevin Cooper (two goals) led the charge for the Terps offense.
One of the major problems for the Terps was the fact that they fell behind very early on. Cornell scored just 41 seconds into the game with attacker Matt Donovan finding the back of the cage. The Big Red added another goal and took a 2-0 lead only 1:27 into the game.
However with Cornell putting the pressure on Maryland early on, Terps goalie Niko Amato made a nice save and passed the ball ahead to spring Jesse Bernhardt. Bernhardt ran the length of the field and put one in the back of the net to take the lead to 2-1 But this game was all about Cornell being able to answer any Maryland rally. In the span of a minute in the first quarter, Rob Pannell scored a goal with a left-handed shot after coming from behind the Maryland cage. Then just 26 seconds later, Pannell put a beautiful pass right on attacker Steve Mock’s stick and Mock did not miss to give Cornell a 4-1 lead.
Turnovers plagued the Terps in the opening quarter as they committed six and only registered eight shots. The Big Red took a 4-1 lead after the opening quarter of play. Turnovers were a theme over the course of the entire game with neither team taking very good care of the ball.
On their first possession of the second quarter, midfielder Mike Chanenchuk blasted a beautiful shot past Cornell goalie A.J. Fiore off a beautiful pass from Cooper behind the cage. The goal cut the lead to 4-2. Midfielder John Haus scores a nice goal off a pinpoint pass from midfielder Jake Bernhardt to cut the Big Red lead to 4-3. However, Pannell found the back of the cage on the very next possession after a poor defensive effort by Maryland. As seemed to be the theme in the first half, Maryland never got down on themselves and kept battling. Cooper was behind the net and saw a tiny opening, so he forced his way in front and beat Fiore to cut the Cornell lead to 6-4. The senior midfielder led the Terps in points during the regular season.
With 12:31 remaining in the third quarter, Pannell squeaked a shot past Amato to extend the lead to 7-4. The goal was one that barely snuck under Amato’s feet and frankly, one that he should’ve had. Maryland was able to rebound from the poor goal as Haus found the back of the cage again. The Maryland senior was able to force his way in front and scored. The Terps cut the lead to 7-5 with a little over 10 minutes to go in third quarter. The Maryland defense played much more aggressive in the third quarter as they were getting to groundballs and forcing turnovers. They did neither of those things in the opening half.
After falling behind 9-5 in the third quarter, midfielder Charlie Raffa scored in the open field and it happened to be only his fifth tally on the season. The Terps trailed 9-6 at that point. With 8:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, attacker Owen Blye came to the side of the net and beat Fiore to make it a 12-7 ballgame. It was Blye’s first point of the afternoon. However, the Big Red answered with four consecutive goals to put the game out of reach.
One of the key reasons for the Terps falling in this contest was their pursuit of groundballs. Maryland was out-hustled by a margin of 43-29 and that was clearly evident in the first half. At times, Cornell played extremely aggressive defense and was able to knock the ball away from the Terps on several occasions. Cornell also held an advantage in the faceoff circle as they won 16 of the 26 faceoffs.