Schoellkopf Field was on high-alert Saturday afternoon as the Army Black Knights rode into town. One year ago Monday, Army (2-3) toppled the Red (2-0) in a tight 11-9 victory in West Point, N.Y. Saturday’s contest offered Cornell a chance to avenge last season’s loss, and the Red emerged victorious, remaining unbeaten for the season and walking away with an overwhleming 18-7 win.
“Saturday’s game was a battle,” said senior midfielder J.J. Gilbane, who scored once for the Red. “Army is a very talented team. We came out very hard and very energetic and were able to execute our game plan against them. What really helped us was winning a lot of face-offs and our work off the ground. We played a lot better than we did against Binghamton [on Feb. 28]. We played a good, full game and I think that both offense and defense improved from our last game.”
In the 17-12 victory over Binghamton, the Red’s defense seemed to experience a few hiccups; however, Saturday’s contest against Army highlighted the hard work that the team had been putting into practice all week. According to senior attacker and captain Rob Pannell, Cornell focused on areas of concern highlighted by its performance in the game against Binghamton.
“[Army] was a great game for us to rebound after Binghamton,” Pannell said. “In Binghamton we started with a slow performance, but after a couple days of practice and [head coach Ben DeLuca] challenging us where we were at, we saw Army as a tough team coming in. We knew it wouldn’t be an easy win for us. We came out with a lot of energy and executed our game plan pretty well and are looking to move forward.”
The Red brought a high level of intensity to the field on Saturday, scoring 10 of its 18 goals during the first two quarters. Junior attacker Steve Mock scored all five of his goals in the second quarter, lifting the Red to a 6-2 lead over the Black Knights. Pannell scored one goal in the first quarter and notched five assists, including two of Mock’s goals. Making a name for himself in only his second collegiate game, freshman attacker Matt Donovan recorded four goals and two assists in the Red’s blowout win. By the end of the game, 12 Cornell players were credited with at least one point for the Red.
“We played extremely hard — we did a lot of things we wanted to,” said senior midfielder Mitch McMichael. “I think our face-offs guys did a great job. … Once we get the ball in there, it is pretty hard to stop them.”
One area where the Red dominated play against Army was at the faceoff ‘x.’ Sophomore midfielder Doug Tesoriero won 17-of-26 restarts for Cornell. Assistant coach Paul Richards has been instrumental with improving at the face-off ‘x,’ according to McMichael.
“I think that coach Richards has really put a lot of emphasis on Doug and my check techniques, hitting the front of the whistle instead of waiting for it,” he said. “Anticipating the whistle instead of waiting for it, I think that both of us have become better for it. Doug did such a great job against Army, if we keep this up... going along the same road we did the last week or two, we can expect the same results against Canisius.”
The Red has a quick turnover, returning to action Tuesday afternoon, hosting Canisius at 4 p.m.
“Tuesday games are always tough because of the quick turnaround from Saturday,” said senior midfielder Scott Austin. “We played Canisius early on in the season [last year,] so it’s a tough matchup. People have been saying we have been trying to go undefeated against all the New York State teams; this is just another test. We are looking forward to playing. It will be a tough matchup.”
According to Gilbane, looking for the best shooting opportunities will be the key to the Red’s success.
“We look to the best shot, not the first shot,” he said. “It involves all six guys moving together on the same page, so we can create a lot of good scoring opportunities.”