The lacrosse standings took a major shift last night as the undefeated and top ranked Syracuse Orange lost to the Cornell Big Red in the Carrier Dome last night. Cornell exectued their game plan perfectly and the best player in the country showed up in a huge way.
Rob Pannell scored three goals and assisted on three more, beating his matchup's throughout the night and exposing the Orange defense like no other team has done in 2011. Pannell flat out toyed with the Orange defense at times throughout the game.
Lets relax on all these comments i've been reading this morning that Syracuse needs to wake up and change things. Yes, Cornell played a great game, beat the Orange all over the field and caused the Orange to make 20 turnovers. But Lelan Rogers' defense played the majority of the game without banged up star defenseman John Lade (who would have taken on Pannell) and the offense were without attackman Tim Desko.
In the long run, its a huge win for coach Ben DeLuca and the Cornell Big Red program. For the Orange, its one loss in a season of 15 games. Its going to happen to all teams and its something, that in my mind, needs to happen to a team. No team can just cruise into the playoffs these days undefeated and expect to be a national championship contender, it just doesnt happen that way. Just look at Virginia the past two seasons. Headed in undefeated and just couldnt make it past the semi-finals.
To be honest though, last nights game did make me scratch my head. The Orange offense has been stagnant in numerous games this season and I really started to wonder when S.U. was called for a stall on the opening possesion. That just inst Syracuse offense.
There have been signs of the offense waking up--the first half against Army, the first half against Duke, the entire game against Albany, but in between those games its been an inconsistent offense.
We all know how the Orange have responded after losing their first game on the season. In 2008, a week three loss to Virginia and the Orange rattled off 10 consecutive wins before losing to Colgate in the season finale. After that loss, they went on to win the national championship.
2009, another week three loss to Virginia in front of a packed Carrier Dome and the Orange come back to win five straight games before a mid season loss to Princeton at the inagural Big City Classic. Nine consectutive wins en route to a second straight national championship.
2010 saw yet another week three loss to the Cavaliers of Virginia, 11 consecutive wins before the infamous Army loss in the first round.
Fact is, teams need this. Its a stepping stone. A team needs to know what it is like to lose. Some of the best teams in the nation have one, two and even three losses.
Cornell had their losses early, and like Pannell said, they learned from those and told themselves they can hang and play with the best teams in the nation. It all led to this point and it seems as if the Big Red are hitting their stride in perfect time, right as the final stretch of the season comes around.
The biggest thing to take away from this game is Syracuse isnt perfect and Cornell is a top four team in the country. Each team learned things from this game and no doubt Syracuse will be back this weekend and will have fixed the problems they saw last night.