May 23, 2009

Division I Semifinal - Virginia vs. Cornell Notes

  • Cornell improves to 7-4 in NCAA semifinals. The Big Red is 3-3 in NCAA finals, having won titles in 1971, 1976 and 1977. Cornell last reached the championship game in 1988, defeating Virginia for the chance to play Syracuse.

  • Cornell will meet No. 2 seed Syracuse in Monday's championship game. It is the first meeting of intrastate rivals in the title game since the same teams met in 1988, a 13-8 SU win. According to Google Maps, the teams' home fields are separated by a 54.1-mile drive.

  • Syracuse is 1-1 against Cornell in the NCAA tournament. The teams met in the 1988 final, a 13-8 Syracuse win, and in the 1987 semifinals, an 18-15 Cornell win.

  • Syracuse leads the all-time series against Cornell, 58-33-1. The teams' last meeting was a 15-10 SU home win April 7. Syracuse is 1-1 against Ivy League teams this season.

  • The attendance for today's games was 36,594. It is the seventh-highest total for an NCAA semifinal round.

  • The last time both semifinals were decided by at least nine goals was 2003, when Johns Hopkins defeated Syracuse, 19-8, and Virginia defeated Maryland, 14-4.

  • Cornell is the first Ivy League team to advance to the NCAA Championship final since Princeton in 2002. The Big Red looks to become the first Ivy team to win the NCAA title since the Tigers in 2001.

  • Cornell improves to 27-18 (.600) in 22 NCAA tournament appearances. Virginia falls to 41-28 (.594) in 32 tournaments.

  • Cornell head coach Jeff Tambroni reaches the NCAA final for the first time in his nine-year tenure. His NCAA coaching record improves to 9-6 (.600) in seven tournament appearances.

  • Virginia head coach Dom Starsia made his 11th semifinal appearance, the second-highest total in NCAA history. He falls to 29-18 (.617) in NCAA action, 27-13 (.675) at Virginia.

  • Cornell evens the season series, following Virginia's 14-10 win March 8 in Charlottesville, Va. Virginia leads the all-time series between the teams, 5-3.

  • It is the third time Cornell has posted an NCAA win against a team to which it lost in the regular season. The Big Red has twice lost to a team in the regular season and again in the tournament.

  • Cornell improves to 12-0 when leading after the first quarter. Virginia had won two of its previous four games when trailing after a quarter. The Big Red improves to 11-2 when leading at halftime and 12-0 when leading after three quarters.

  • Cornell improves to 11-0 when allowing fewer than 10 goals and 4-0 when scoring 15 or more.

  • Cornell improves to 3-1 when playing as the No. 5 seed. The Big Red's only previous appearance when seeded fifth came in 1979, when it lost to Virginia, 15-8, in the quarterfinals.

  • Virginia falls to 8-12 in NCAA semifinals. The Cavaliers fall to 8-2 as the tournament's top seed. They previously lost as the No. 1 seed in 1980 and won the national title as the No. 1 seed in 2006.

  • It is the second straight season that Duke and Virginia were the two NCAA semifinal losers. At least one ACC team reached the final in each of the three preceding years.

  • It is the second straight NCAA Championship that the tournament's top seed has lost in the semifinal. Duke was the No. 1 seed last season. The top seed had reached the final in each of the three preceding years.

  • Virginia was held to one goal in the first quarter for the second time this season. The other time was in a 10-9 seven-overtime win against Maryland March 28.

  • Cornell held Virginia scoreless for 17 minutes, 32 seconds. The Big Red has held all three of its tournament opponents scoreless for at least that long, holding Princeton without a goal for 27:58 in the quarterfinals and keeping Hofstra goalless for 19:37 in the first round.

  • Cornell recorded its highest tournament goal total since defeating Virginia, 19-16, in the 1988 semifinals.

  • Virginia allowed 15 goals in an NCAA game for the first time since a 15-14 loss to Hofstra in 2001.

  • Virginia's two first-half goals matched its lowest output in a half this season. The Cavaliers previously scored two goals in the first half of their 16-5 ACC Tournament loss to Duke April 24 and in the second half of a 10-4 win against Bryant Feb. 16.

  • The six-goal halftime deficit was the largest Virginia faced this season. The eight goals allowed in the first half matched a season high set in a 16-15 win at Johns Hopkins March 21. The Cavaliers led that game, 12-8, at halftime.

  • Virginia posted its second-lowest three-period scoring total of the season. The Cavaliers scored just two goals in their 16-5 loss to Duke.

  • Cornell's Ryan Hurley notched a point for the 31st straight game. He recorded his 10th hat trick of the season.

  • Cornell's David Lau scored his first NCAA tournament goal. His father, George Lau, scored once during the Big Red's 1977 championship run.

  • Cornell's Ryan Pannell led all players with six points on three goals and three assists. It was his third hat trick of the season and his team-leading seventh game with five or more points.

  • Cornell's Rocco Romero equaled a career high with two goals.

    Division I Semifinal - Cornell Coach Quotes
    Head Coach Jeff Tambroni

    Opening Statement:
    We are thrilled and proud of the effort of our guys today. They really dug in during a game where we knew we wouldn't have a lot of believers out there. We knew we needed to believe first and play hard second. We were fortunate enough to accomplish both of those against such a talented and dangerous Virginia team. We're excited we can move on into uncharted territory for the modern day Cornell program. I hope we can prepare ourselves for that next juggernaut in Syracuse.

    On the importance of strong play in the first quarter:
    We knew we needed to get off to a strong start against Virginia. We talked a lot about believing with our guys. We heard a lot from the media about how we weren't supposed to win this game and I think by starting strong early our players could believe in themselves and play at such a high level. After our first few shots went in, I thought we settled in and I felt that after the first 15 minutes were behind us, our guys had a positive look in their eyes. We carried the momentum from the first stanza into the next 45 minutes.

    On preparation for Monday's championship game:
    I've never made it through the semifinals before as a player or coach. We'll rely on our seniors on to get on our guys the next few days. We told the players in the locker room that we need to settle in fairly quickly. I thought the focus for this game was right on point. We asked our guys to remain focused and to enjoy it for a little while when they see their families, but when we get back on the bus and get back to the hotel, I'm hoping that our staff and our team will get right back on board and prepare for Syracuse. We know how good Syracuse is based on its performance this afternoon.

    Division I Semifinal - Cornell Athlete Quotes

    Senior Midfielder Max Seibald

    On whether Saturday's win was an upset
    "We came into this game expecting to win from the get-go. Since that last time we played them at Virginia early on in the season, we came out in the first half of that game and played well. We came out kind of slow the second half. I think everyone on our team wanted another crack at them right after that game. We've been looking forward to another opportunity to compete against UVA since that day."

    On Cornell's ability to respond after Virginia goals
    "I think our team did a great job at staying not too high or not too low and just staying even-keeled throughout the entire game. When Virginia came down and struck quick and scored, we did a good job at the faceoff X at maintaining possession of the ball or getting in the hole and preventing them from scoring another quick one. That was part of our game plan, just to slow them down."

    Freshman attack Rob Pannell

    On being able to play so well as a freshman
    "The teammates I have around me allow me to do the job that I do behind the cage. Knowing you have guys like Max Seibald, Johnny Glynn and Rocco Romero at the midfield and Chris Finn and Ryan Hurley at the attack, they draw a lot of attention as well. When things aren't going well for me, they can handle the ball, handle the pressure as well. Coming into this game, I just took it like any other game"

    On the Cornell defense
    "Our best defense is our offense, and our best offense is our defense. It's comforting standing at the midfield line knowing they're going to make stops, and you don't have to worry about them letting in goals and that we're going to have to keep scoring. Knowing that (Jake Myers) is making those saves and the defense around him is playing like they were today and have been these past couple games is comforting."

    Division I Semifinal - Virginia Coach Quotes
    Head Coach Dom Starsia

    Opening Statement:
    First and foremost I would say congratulations to Cornell for a terrific game. I thought they just played great. I'm at a little bit of a loss to explain sort of what happened to us today. I thought we were well-prepared going into the game and had a couple good days of practice. We just seemed a little gassed early. Cornell was clearly carrying the play to us. The big rock started rolling down the hill a little bit, and we just couldn't get our arms back around it. We tell you in so many different ways this has been an epic year in our program. I couldn't have enjoyed a bunch of guys - the seniors in particular perhaps, but the team overall. I thought the kids just did a great job all year. I apologized to the team on the field afterwards for not doing a good-enough job preparing them to play today. They have distinguished themselves in so many ways throughout the year, and it's a shame that this is how our season ended out here today. But again, I give a lot of credit to Cornell for how things went out there.

    On defensive breakdowns and if it was more goalie play or Cornell getting good shots:
    I don't think it was just Adam. We looked like, defensively, that we were capable of winning some of the individual battles, but just sort of no one working together. I don't place the blame on anybody. We could maybe get a slide, but we just couldn't get two. They just were very alert, finding the open man. It's something that had plagued us earlier in the year, and we felt like we had attended to it some the last couple weeks. It was an organization on defense as much as it was anything else I felt like.

    On not throwing the extra pass or throwing it and missing it:
    In the first half, we threw so many soft balls on offense. It seemed like it was so difficult to exchange a ball. We had been so sharp the last couple of weeks. It just seemed like we just didn't have any extra energy today. I don't think it explains it completely. We have a drill we call "hard corners." We refer to it in our exchanges about having hard corners. We just seemed almost incapable of making a pass offensively in the first half of the game. We got a little better as the game went on. There just wasn't enough urgency at that end of the field early in the game.

    On the pace of the game and wanting to play faster:
    By the score you wouldn't have thought that Cornell wanted to play deliberately, but I think that was their intent. It's so much easier when you get a lead. One of the most difficult things in sports is, like Danny is suggesting, is to maintain your patience and discipline on offense when you haven't seen the ball for a long time. They jumped up, and you feel like from our perspective, "Hey, we're still in the game. We're down 1-0; we're down 2-0, or 3-1, whatever it was." But they're comfortable in terms of what's going on. So they were able to be deliberate early in the game. I hate to go into a game saying, "Geez, we'd like to score early," because if it doesn't happen, you don't want to kind of hex yourself a little bit. But their ability to jump out to the lead early gave them the ability to stick to the tempo I think that they wanted. I think we gave them some unsettled opportunities that they might not have gone after had the game been a little closer. They could take some chances as the game went on in the unsettled game. I think their scoring - jumping up early in the game - had everything to do with them being able to get comfortable in what was a more deliberate pace even if the score didn't reflect that at the end of the day.

    On how Cornell was able to answer after each Virginia score, especially in the third and fourth quarters:
    It was a combination of things, as Danny suggested. I think they have a great senior class with some really terrific offensive guys. They're playing with a lot of confidence. Like I suggested earlier, when they had the lead, they could take some chances I thought. We were kind of a step slow and a dollar short on defense, and they were able to cash in. We'd score a goal, and maybe there'd be a little glimmer, but then we pressed out even just a little. They just seemed like they could get the ball in behind us and find somebody and make a play and respond. We just never put two goals together. We never put a run together. I also thought we were going to. I really did, but it just never happened. Cornell had everything to do with that.

    On if they were surprised on how potent their attack was:
    I thought we were - it wasn't our best day on our close defense like I said. Those guys have given us a great year and busted their butt, but I thought Cornell was very alert around the goal. A lot of emanates also from the fact that Glynn and Seibald can kind of soften you up up front. So you get caught kind of eyeballing those guys for just a little too long and Hurley and Pannell, and those guys could find seams in behind them, behind our defensemen as we were getting ready to try to help against those middies.

    Division I Semifinal - Virginia Athlete Quotes

    Senior Attack Danny Glading

    On a subpar first quarter
    "I think we missed some of the early chances that we had. Cornell did a really good job on the 50/50 ground balls after faceoffs so we didn't see the ball very often on offense because they were being so patient with their offense. We didn't have the patience to get to the spots that we needed to and take the high-percentage shots in the first quarter."

    On the Cornell defense
    "They're a really athletic defense and they're really good on the ground balls but they did slide to us early today and they played completely differently the first time we played them. We didn't necessarily think they were going to play the same way they did earlier in the season, but they were quick to go today, real quick, and they recover fast to the next pass because they're so athletic. We just had to do a better job spinning the ball around and we didn't have it so it didn't work out for us."

    On getting into an offensive rhythm
    "I really actually felt like we were going to start playing better up until even a couple minutes into the fourth quarter. When we got that first goal in the fourth quarter, I thought that we could have made a run and then Steele [Stanwick] made a great move and hit the crossbar. That's just kind of the way things were going today."

    Senior Long-Stick Midfielder Mike Timms

    On the differences in Cornell's offense from the earlier meeting this season
    "I don't really think they did anything that we hadn't prepared for or hadn't seen them do against other teams. They did what we thought they were going to do but they just did it better then they had been doing it. Like Coach was saying earlier, we could stop the first play and maybe even the second one, but they just had the patience to keep moving the ball around until our defense couldn't keep up and it kind of broke down after they had those long possessions throughout the game."