Pennsylvania-Cornell was an effort in abstract impressionist lacrosse: A sloppy first half (which included an own-goal on Penn's keeper, Brian Feeney) bled into a dominant third quarter showing from Cornell which then pivoted to a Quakers rally that eventually resulted in an 11-10 win for Penn in the semifinals of the Ivy League Tournament. The 60 minutes of . . . whatever the heck that was . . . on display at Harvard Stadium featured heavy shifts in momentum after both teams attempted to find their purpose in the first half.
Over the course of the game's first 30 minutes, Pennsylvania and Cornell combined for seven penalties, 19 turnovers, 27 run-of-play groundballs, and a collective mess that ended with the Quakers taking a 7-5 lead into the intermission. Neither team looked like the elite messenger of death that both showed capable of proving this season, with Penn looking slightly less shaken than the Red. A turning point in the game, however, came with 11 seconds remaining in the second quarter: Off of a Pennsylvania turnover on a clearing attempt (the Quakers could have held for the half's final shot had they not pitched the ball out of bounds), Dan Litner pushed a highlight reel behind-the-back goal past Feeney off of a Matt Donovan feed to pull Cornell within two. That tally would serve as a launch pad for the Big Red in the third quarter, a period that Cornell ruled with a despotic clenched fist.
Just 42 seconds into the second half, Connor Buczek canned the bean with an unassisted tally to draw Cornell within one. Under two minutes later, Joe Paoletta answered the bell to knot the scoreboard at seven, the first tie of the game since early in the first quarter when the teams were deadlocked at two. Litner then fed Donovan for a textbook goal that gave the Red their first lead since 1-0. It was a three-goal push in the third period that was earned on only five shots, but Cornell wasn't done: After Penn blew an offensive opportunity -- one of only six in the period -- and committed a penalty, Donovan cashed in to give the Big Red a two goal lead with 8:15 remaining in the penultimate period; less than two minutes later, Donovan and Litner hooked up again for another highlight-worthy behind the back bucket that pushed the Red's lead to 10-7. In a fit of ruthless might, Cornell scored six unanswered goals on 14 shots, erasing a two-goal deficit and building a three-goal lead. That Litner goal at the 6:39 mark of the third quarter, though, would be the last goal that Cornell would score against the Quakers.
Penn snapped a 17:40 scoring drought with an unassisted goal from Zack Losco 1:03 into the final period. Losco answered his goal 2:57 later with a man-up goal on an assist from Nick Doctor, easing the margin on the scoreboard to 10-9 in favor of Cornell. 2:48 later, Losco proved that it's possible to move the Earth with a large lever, tying the game at 10 with a man-work goal with 8:12 remaining in regulation. The Quakers were playing with confidence and verve behind Losco's drive and a defense that seemingly found its core after a disastrous third quarter. The teams would trade meandering play for the next seven minutes until Penn -- in a timer-on posture that followed a Cornell turnover on the preceding possession -- got the game-winning goal from -- who else? -- Losco on a torrid shot on the run with 50 seconds remaining in the game that beat Christian Knight. Losco single-handedly brought the Quakers back from the depths, scoring four of his five goal in the game's last session. The final ticks were academic, with the Red blowing the game's last functional possession on a turnover that started in Buczek's crosse and ended up somewhere in the Charles River.
These are the good times, people.
TRUNCATED ADVANCED BOX SCORE
|Raw Offensive Efficiency||32.35||34.48|
|Raw Offensive Shooting Rate||31.43%||34.48%|
|Shots per Offensive Opportunity||1.03||1.00|
|Turnovers per 100 Offensive Opportunities||55.88||58.62|
|Run-of-Play Groundballs per 100 Possessions||41.27||33.33|
|Saves per 100 Defensive Opportunities||31.03||20.59|
|Team Save Percentage||47.37%||38.89%|