Cornell 12, Towson 11

May 14, 2005

TOWSON, Md. - In a game that featured seven ties, five lead changes and a 102-minute lightning delay, a goal from the stick of sophomore Brian Clayton with 11 seconds left in regulation pushed the Cornell men's lacrosse team to a thrilling 12-11 victory over seventh-seeded Towson in the first round of NCAA tournament on Saturday evening at Johnny Unitas Stadium. The Big Red, now 11-2 on the year and winner of nine straight, advances to the NCAA quarterfinals for the third time in four seasons and will face No. 2 Duke on Sunday, May 22. The Tigers finish their 2005 campaign with an 11-5 record.

Towson held a decisive 20-7 lead on faceoffs and held Cornell senior Sean Greenhalgh without a goal, something that hadn't happened in the previous 31 contests, but the Big Red came through in the clutch, scoring five of the final seven goals after trailing 9-7 entering the final quarter. The Tigers had won its past 25 contests when it scored 10 or more goals.

Junior Justin Redd, a Towson native, registered a game-high four points (1g, 3a), including the game-winning assist to help the Big Red improve to 3-0 in one-goal contests this season. Senior Kevin Nee also registered four points on the strength of a three-goal performance and junior defensive midfielder Cameron Marchant, who had never scored a point entering the game, came through with a key fourth-quarter goal and an early assist.

Towson was led by sophomore midfielder Nick Williams, who found the back of the net four times after scoring just seven goals during the regular season. Senior netminder Reed Sothoron stopped 12 Big Red shots.

After giving up the first goal of the contest, Cornell responded by scoring four straight goals, to take what would be the only three-goal lead of the night. Towson negated the Big Red's early offensive run with four straight tallies of its own, causing a 5-4 lead for the home squad. Cornell regained the lead with a three-goal spurt, only to watch the Tigers score the final two goals before halftime.

With the score knotted at 7-7 in the second minute of the third quarter, lightning struck in the area, causing a mandatory 30-minute delay. It would continue for the better part of two hours, resulting in a 1-hour, 40-minute gap before play resumed. Towson came out a bit sharper than the Big Red after the delay, breaking the tie with the only two goals of the third quarter and fighting off a minute-long penalty to make it a 9-7 game in its favor entering the fourth quarter.

In the fourth, Cornell hit its stride on both ends of the field. Sophomore goaltender Matt McMonagle, who made just three saves in the first 52 minutes of regulation, recorded four stops in the final eight minutes, including two point-blank efforts. On the offensive side, the Big Red scored on half of their 10 fourth-quarter shots, scoring the first four goals of the stanza to gain the upper hand at 11-9 with 8:25 left on the clock.

Two strong individual efforts by Towson caused the seventh and final tie of the evening, but Cornell came up with a faceoff win when it needed it most, as it established possession and ran out the clock before putting together the winning play. Towson claimed the final faceoff and Cornell was flagged for a penalty on the play, giving the Tigers a man-up opportunity with six seconds to play, but a desperation shot from 15-yards out was stopped by McMonagle to seal the win.

Three-and-a-half hours before the game ended, Towson claimed the opening faceoff and took two minutes off the clock before sophomore Keith Obloj sent a bouncer past McMonagle.

Once Cornell got into its offensive end, it was lethal, scoring on its first three shots. The Big Red collected the evening's second faceoff and set up its personnel before Redd sent the ball to junior Joe Boulukos, who fired a shot past Sothoron. Cornell caused a turnover on Towson's next possession, igniting a textbook fast break goal, as Marchant collected a deep clearing pass and got the ball into Nee's stick. The senior sniper did the rest, as Nee finished off the successful transition with his first goal of the night, as Marchant registered his first career point in the process.

Junior Derek Haswell completed the four-goal run with back-to-back goals, as the junior finished off a pass from Nee with 9:33 left in the first quarter and then bumped the Big Red's lead to 4-1 when sent back a rebound off his own shot just outside the left portion of the crease.

Eckerl did all the work for Towson's second goal, as the sophomore picked up the faceoff clean and charged into the box before zipping a shot to the nets, recording his first career goal. The tally kicked off a furious three-goal run by the Tigers that took all of 68 seconds. Williams scored 24 seconds following Eckerl's marker and sophomore Oliver Bacon converted 39 seconds later in what was the final goal of the opening quarter.

With the score knotted at 4-4 to kick off the second quarter, Towson extended its run to four goals when Williams eluded his defender with a spin move before chucking a dart to the top of the net from 10 yards out, handing a 5-4 advantage the way of the home team. Cornell countered immediately, as sophomore Brian Clayton scored on an assist from Greenhalgh to cause the third tie of opening half.

McMonagle's first save of the night came just under three minutes into the second quarter. The sophomore collected the ball and helped the Big Red clear into the offensive end, where it was patient before senior Ian Rosenberger whistled a bouncer from the left side to the back of the net. Freshman linemate John Glynn was credited with an assist, helping give Cornell the lead again at 6-5.

Nee netted his second goal of the game with 6:35 left before intermission when he took a pass from behind the cage and maneuvered along the right side before sending a bouncer past Sothoron.

A tremendous individual effort by Williams led to his first-half hat trick and got his team within one at 7-6. The sophomore broke through the first line of defense before diving towards the cage and flinging the ball to the nets. On its next possession, Towson called timeout and made sure it would head into the break in a deadlock, as sophomore Jonathan Engelke, son of Cornell great Norman Engelke' 81, gathered a pass from junior Steve Mull before scoring with 46 seconds showing on the clock.

After a lightning delay that lasted 102 minutes, Cornell had possession when play resumed and kept the ball for nearly four minutes, taking four shots and collecting four ground balls. However, Sothoron was sharp despite the delay, making two saves during the stretch. The Tigers would end up scoring the first goal of the second half when Williams came through with his fourth score of the contest. The home team gained a 9-7 edge when sophomore Bobby Griebe scored on a man-up chance with 50 seconds left in the third.

After Cornell was held scoreless in a quarter for only the third time this season, Redd got the Red's offense clicking again, igniting another four-goal run with a goal followed by an assist on Nee's third goal of the contest. An unsettled situation led to Marchant's first career goal, which came on a feed from Greenhalgh and reestablished the lead for the Big Red at 10-9 with 10:16 left in regulation.

As Cornell's fourth penalty of the night was winding down with under eight minutes left in regulation, McMonagle made his finest save of the game on a crease shot by Engelke. But two unassisted efforts by the Tigers, one by Obloj and one by Griebe, caused the seventh tie of the night with just over two minutes left. On the next faceoff, Cornell came up the with the ball in an unsettled situation and called timeout before working out the blueprints for the game-winning play.

-- Courtesy Cornell