ITHACA, N.Y. -- Down 5-2 to No. 2 Virginia and looking for a spark late in the second quarter, No. 15 Cornell turned things around quickly thanks to senior midfielder Doug Tesoriero. The Big Red began a 9-0 run with two goals 5 seconds apart, the first coming just 6 seconds after the Cavaliers' fifth of the game, and Cornell knocked off Virginia 12-9 on Saturday afternoon at Schoellkopf Field. The home team improved to 5-0, while Virginia slipped to 6-1.
Freshman goalkeeper Christian Knight was outstanding between the pipes with 15 saves in his first collegiate start, including six huge stops in the first quarter as the Big Red settled in after a slow start. Junior Matt Donovan had two goals and three assists, both Connor Buczek and Dan Lintner had hat tricks and Tom Freshour caused four of the visitor's 17 turnovers. Tesoriero won 12 of 24 face-offs, including a stretch of several key ones late in the second and early in the third quarter.
"We were 50 percent on the day in face-offs," interim head coach Matt Kerwick said, "but it seemed like all the big ones went our way."
Two of Tesoriero's biggest wins of the day were the catalyst to the decisive run, as the Big Red scored back-to-back goals 5 seconds apart. Trailing 5-2 after Ryan Tucker's goal with 2:36 left in the second quarter, Cornell stole the momentum permanently. On the ensuing face-off, Tesoriero won it cleanly ahead of himself and found Lintner 6 yards out for a blast to cut it to 5-3 with 2:30 left. Five seconds later it was Donovan on the receiving end of a Tesoriero pass after a face-off win. Two more face-off wins would prove crucial, as the Big Red tied the game with 32 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Buczek fired a rocket after a feed from Donovan and then 15 seconds later, after a Cornell timeout, Donovan netted his second goal of the game to give the Big Red its first lead of the day at 6-5.
That was just the start of it.
Cornell added the first five goals of the third quarter to methodically push the advantage to as many as 11-5 after consecutive scores by Buczek a little more than a minute apart. Virginia got back within 11-7 early in the fourth and earned a dangerous 3-minute unreleasable extra-man opportunity, but couldn't get a score from it. The Big Red allowed just one shot before causing the turnover. With the help of two different Virginia penalties during the Big Red man-down, Cornell was able to play keep away for the final 2:20 of the foul.
Three minutes later, Lintner scored the dagger on a feed from Donovan with 4:05 left to make it 12-7. The Cavaliers scored twice in the final 3 minutes, but never threatened to get back in the game as Cornell remained unbeaten.
"After the start we had I was concerned," Kerwick said. "But we took a timeout and told the guys to take a breath and everyone responded. The hustle plays started going our way in the second half and then Doug [Tesoriero] jump-started us."
Virginia looked as though it might run away with the game early, taking two-goal leads at 3-1 and 4-2 before extending the advantage to 5-2, but the Big Red surged late in the half.
Virginia dominated the first period, outshooting the Big Red 14-5, but took just a 2-1 lead into the second thanks in large part to Knight's six huge saves. Cornell took control in the second 15 minutes, posting an 18-9 shot advantage and winning 6 of 9 face-offs. Despite struggles clearing the ball out of its offensive zone, Knight was able to keep UVa away from the transition goals for which they are so well-known. The Big Red also cut down its miscues as the game went along. After 11 turnovers in the first 15 minutes, it made just nine in the final 45, two of which came in the final moments of the game as the Big Red tried to kill the clock.
The third period was all Cornell and the fourth saw the Big Red keep Virginia from taking any kind of momentum.