Those are highlights from Cornell's victory over Virginia last Friday at Klockner Stadium, a win that saw Rob Pannell account for six points -- ho-hum -- and assist on the final score with just 13 seconds left in the game (all against a defense currently ranked 13th in adjusted defensive efficiency). It was a good win for the Red -- the strongest they've had this season -- and serves as a nice bridge to Cornell's Ivy League opener with Yale this weekend.
It's just not that Cornell went into Charlottesville and pulled off a victory that's important, though. For most, the Red's win was proof that Cornell has the ability to do some destructive things this season; it's not just Maryland that has been impressive this year and the Red signaled to everyone that it's serious about its position as one of the nation's elite. The numbers have been indicating that (even before the Virginia game) and I think they help provide detail around just how good the Red have been:
- Cornell is currently ranked second in adjusted offensive efficiency and eighth in adjusted defensive efficiency. No team can top its 15.81 adjusted efficiency margin.
- Only four teams are doing a better job at getting the ball into the attack box. The Red's 95.92 percent functional offensive opportunities ratio (the ratio of offensive opportunities that find terminus in the attack box) is stellar and the team's clearing percentage -- 91.11 percent (ninth nationally) -- is a huge reason for that. Throw in the fact that the Red are doing a decent job at not spitting the bit when they get into the attack box -- the team is only losing about 39 percent of their trips to the attack box due to a turnover (26th nationally) (unforced, mostly, as indicated by the team's low caused turnover ratio when in the box) -- and it starts to become clear how Cornell is able to wash their opponents over with offense -- they aren't killing themselves (shooting 33.05 percent (sixth in the county) also helps).
- With all the talk about whether Cornell would get enough out of the cage this season to contend for a spot in Championship Weekend, A.J. Fiore has been doing a nice job (the keeper holds a 58.5 save percentage). Now, Cornell hasn't been heavily relying on Fiore to win them games and end defensive possessions -- as evidenced by (1) the team's saves per defensive possession rate (54th nationally); the team's decent ride rate (20th nationally); and (3) the high caused turnover and unforced turnover rates that the Red are earning (Cornell is ranked ninth and eighth in each metric, respectively) -- but Fiore also hasn't been the problem that some worried about in the preseason. That aside, Cornell has only faced a schedule ranked 55th in opposing offenses faced, and this defensive situation could change down the line. But for now, the goaltending situation for the Red has been fairly acceptable.
- To dovetail that last point -- a sure sticking point for some -- I offer this: Cornell has played with a 5.60 possession margin in their favor this season, due in large part to the team's effort at the dot (Cornell is currently ranked fourth in raw faceoff percentage at 65.91 percent and sixth in adjusted faceoff percentage at 65.58 percent). If the Red can continue to insulate their defense and give the offense lots of extra possessions due, in part, to Doug Tesoriero's work on the whistle, concerns about Fiore and the actual strength of the defense may be a moot issue as any exposure it would assume would be relative to what Cornell's light-speed offense can produce.
So, embrace what Cornell has done so far this season; it's hasn't been a one-game magic show. We'll see where the Red ends up as the schedule develops, but for now Cornell is among the national elite.