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Penn men's lacrosse played Cornell in Ithaca, NY on May 3.

Credit: Grace Chen

The last time No. 16 Penn men’s lacrosse faced off against No. 8 Cornell, the two teams graced Franklin Field with a double overtime thriller that saw the Quakers barely edge out the Big Red off the heroics of senior attacker Cam Rubin. 

In the rematch between the two teams in the Ivy League Tournament semifinal — this time on Cornell’s turf — Penn only needed regulation to punch its ticket to the conference championship game, dominating the Big Red 13-9. 

Known for its offensive power, Cornell (9-5, 5-1 Ivy) wasted little time to get itself on the scoreboard. Big Red midfielder Luke Gilmartin scored straight off the faceoff to give the Big Red an early lead after just six seconds of play. It took the Quakers (9-5, 5-2) nearly four minutes of play before junior midfielder Conell Kumar was finally able to break through the Cornell defense, seeing the ball into the back of the net following a shot from the left side after having previously missed from the right. 

In a first period that quickly became a battle of defenses, Penn senior goaltender Emmet Carroll put on a show between the pipes, recording multiple reaction saves to keep Cornell from pulling away from the Quakers early. The defensive stand gave the Red and Blue the opportunity to step into the lead and sophomore midfielder Griffin Scane did not hesitate, scoring with just over seven to play in the period to give Penn its first lead of the night. 

After a relatively quiet period in terms of offense, the second period saw much more action. Cornell once again opened up the scoring with attacker/midfielder A.J. Nikolic managing to sneak in a goal that dribbled over the line after taking an unfortunate deflection underneath Carroll’s left arm. The Quakers responded with senior midfielder James Shipley rocketing in a shot from far out to regive Penn the one goal lead. Kumar followed suit, scoring his second of the night to give Penn a two goal lead. 

In a season that has seen freshman attacker Leo Hoffman — one of the best freshman prospects entering the season — not quite finding the brilliant success he was hoping for, scoring his first goal of the game to give Penn a two goal lead late in the second period was a much-needed boost for the freshman’s confidence. Left completely unguarded, Hoffman had time to plant his feet before ripping off a shot that gave goalkeeper Wyatt Knust no chance.

Carroll’s dominance in the cage continued as he would close the half off with a game defining stand. After the Penn defender tripped, giving the Cornell attacker a point blank attempt on goal, Carroll came up big with a kick save that was just enough to push the ball onto the post. In the same possession, the Big Red attack was once again able to lose the Penn defender but Carroll was once again there to keep Cornell out of the goal. He finished the game with a season-high 19 saves, with 10 of those coming in the first half alone. 

Coming out of the halftime break, Penn wasted no time in getting going on offense. After entering the break with a three goal lead, a second goal from Shipley gave Penn its largest lead of the night at four. And while Smith and Hoffman would both find the back of the net again for the Quakers, Cornell showed why it ended up as the top seed at this year’s Ivy League Tournament.

Cornell freshman phenom and reigning Ivy League Rookie of the Year attacker Willem Firth was finally able to shake off the Penn senior defender Brendan Lavelle to get himself onto the scoresheet for the Big Red. From there, Cornell clawed itself back into the game such that the Quakers entered the fourth quarter up by just two. 

The Big Red got its chance to get back into the game midway through the fourth when Lavelle was issued a two-minute non-releasable penalty for contact in the head or neck area on attacker C.J. Kirst. Unfortunately, Cornell was unable to take advantage as Carroll would gain possession of the ball to help Penn run out the penalty clock to get its best defenseman back on the field.

After coming into the evening having scored just five goals all year, freshman attacker/midfielder Davis Provost showed up when the team needed him the most, putting the Quakers up by three with less than five minutes left to play. With just over a minute to play, Provost notched his second goal of the night to put the Quakers up by four. That was all the Red and Blue needed to punch its ticket to the championship game.

The loss also marks the first time that Cornell has lost at home this year, having won the team’s seven previous games in Ithaca. And while the win puts the Quakers one step closer to securing a NCAA tournament spot, it leaves Cornell’s fate in the hands of a selection committee in a year that has seen an unprecedented amount of lacrosse talent across the country at the collegiate level. 

Penn men’s lacrosse will take the field again on Sunday at 1 p.m. to face off against archrivals Princeton in the Ivy League Tournament championship game. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.