For about 11 minutes, Penn men’s lacrosse was feeling it, on the verge of breaking an eight-year losing streak to Cornell.
Then reality set in.
After the No. 13 Quakers built a 4-2 first quarter lead, the No. 3 Big Red woke up, going on a 9-1 run that spanned three quarters to recapture the lead before putting Penn away, 17-9.
Despite spending much of the first quarter fending off a flurry of Cornell (8-0, 2-0 Ivy) shots, the Red and Blue (3-3, 0-2) were able to find some early open looks that made hopes of an upset seem very, very real.
Leading 2-1, sophomore Nick Doktor used some nifty moves to find some open space in front of the net and rip in a shot that gave the Quakers a two-goal lead.
Though Cornell senior attack Dan Lintner cut that deficit in half 50 seconds later with a conversion in front after absorbing heavy contact, Penn would re-energize the crowd with a goal from freshman attack Kevin Brown off a slick feed from junior midfield Joe McCallion .
Facing the prospect of a devastating upset, Cornell responded in a matter befitting its high-powered offense.
The Big Red dropped in three goals before the first quarter ended, including a strike from Lintner with just 5.4 seconds left that gave the Big Red the lead and deflated the Quakers.
“That really turned the tide,” coach Mike Murphy said of Lintner’s goal. “We give them that one and then we get beat, 9-2, in the second and third quarters, and that was the game.”
The Quakers were utterly devastated in the second and third quarters. Beyond giving up nine goals, the Red and Blue allowed Cornell to take up permanent residence in the attacking third of the field. The Big Red tallied 27 shots, two fewer than Penn recorded all game.
“They beat us on the faceoffs, they out-ground balled us, we failed a lot of clears which were more or less either bad passes or some effort plays on Cornell’s part,” Murphy said. “We just weren’t sharp.”
Though Brown tallied two goals in a losing effort, it was Cornell’s balanced attack that ultimately led the way. Lintner and junior midfield Connor Buczek tallied four goals apiece, while two other Big Red players added hat tricks of their own right.
The Quakers are now sitting far behind the eight ball in the Ancient Eight, having already fallen to No. 12 Princeton with a trip to No. 16 Yale on the schedule for next weekend.
If the Red and Blue want to stay in touch in the Ivy standings, they know that they can’t afford any more lackluster performances like Saturday's .
“I feel like that was as bad a day as we’ve had playing a game or a practice in a while,” Murphy said. “It’s too bad, but we need to figure out why that happened and begin to address it and just be sharper in every phase.”