By Jeff White (firstname.lastname@example.org)
CHARLOTTESVILLE — Eight days after falling in overtime to Syracuse in the Carrier Dome, the UVa men’s lacrosse team felt the sting of another one-goal loss.
The opponent this time was third-ranked Cornell, which scored with 13 seconds left Saturday night to stun the No. 8 Cavaliers and capture a 12-11 victory before a crowd of 2,885 at Klöckner Stadium.
“It was a great lacrosse game,” Virginia coach Dom Starsia said. “You’re going to look back on a game like this, and you’ll dissect every little thing. Every little mistake we made cost us a little something in the end. It makes a difference in a one-goal game.”
With a minute left, the Big Red (5-0) had the ball and an 11-10 lead. But UVa’s Greg Danseglio, a sophomore long-stick midfielder, forced a turnover, picked up the ground ball and passed to sophomore middie Ryan Tucker, who flipped it ahead to Rob Emery. The junior middie from San Francisco raced down the field and bounced a shot past Cornell goalie A.J. Fiore with 39 seconds left.
The Wahoos’ joy was short-lived. Cornell’s Doug Tesoriero, dominant at the faceoff-X for most of the night, won the game’s most important draw, and the Big Red did not squander the opportunity.
All-America attackman Rob Pannell spotted Steve Mock alone on the crease and delivered a flawless pass. Mock did the rest, getting the ball past freshman goalie Dan Marino for the game-winner.
“It’s tough to give one away in the last 35 seconds there,” Emery said, “but lacrosse is a game of momentum, and they got it going their way for just enough time to slip one in at the end.”
The first Pannell to score Saturday night at Klöckner was James, who’s in his first year at UVa. His goal with 2:41 left in the second quarter pulled the Wahoos to 4-4.
Big brother was the story thereafter. Rob, a fifth-year senior, struggled for most of the first half to get loose from UVa defensemen Scott McWilliams and Tanner Scales, and he finished the game with eight turnovers.
But the elder Pannell finally broke through 82 seconds before halftime, scoring off a pass from Mock to make it 5-5, and in the final two quarters he showed why he’s the leading candidate for the Tewaaraton Trophy. Rob Pannell finished with two goals and a game-high four assists.
“He’s always a factor,” Starsia said. “When you’re getting ready for this game, it’s hard not to use his name in almost every sentence of the preparation. He’s one of those guys that just elevates his teammates. He’s just a very special player.”
Scales, a freshman who started for the first time, and McWilliams, a junior, each caused three turnovers, and UVa’s defense gave Pannell little room in which to operate.
“But he’s a great player, and he finds his ways,” Emery said. “Kudos to him.”
Connor English, who spent his first two years at UVa, led Cornell with three goals. For the `Hoos (5-2), junior attackman Nick O’Reilly, who was held without a point at Syracuse, had three goals and an assist Saturday night. Junior attackman Mark Cockerton and Emery scored two goals a piece, and Tucker contributed a goal and two assists.
Cockerton’s second goal, with 6:43 left in the third quarter, gave the Cavaliers their largest lead, 9-5. But Cornell closed to 9-7 by the end of the third and applied constant pressure in the fourth.
Had Virginia had more possession in the final period, the outcome might have been different. But Tesoriero, a junior who won 69.4 percent of his faceoffs in Cornell’s first four games, won 6 of 7 in the fourth quarter Saturday night. Tesoriero won 14 of 23 overall.
For Virginia, sophomore Mick Parks won only 1 of 6 in the fourth quarter. Starsia tried long-stick middie Tanner Ottenbreit on the draw that followed Emery’s goal with 39 seconds left, but Tesoriero won that one, too.
“It was certainly an issue in the game,” Starsia said. “[The Big Red] did a very good job at the faceoff X. Their wings are very good, and we just couldn’t seem to get a ball. I thought we had good offensive possessions, especially after the first quarter, as the game went on, but we just never seemed like we had the ball enough. Late in the game, I think we could have made something happen of our own if we had just gotten the ball down there.”
O’Reilly said: “Obviously you want the ball to have a chance to win the game. Maybe we could have finished a little bit more, but overall [Cornell] played well. I thought we played pretty well, but not well enough to get away with the W.”
The Cavaliers’ schedule gets no more forgiving. Virginia hosts Ohio State next Saturday at Klöckner, then plays, in order, ACC foes Maryland, North Carolina and Duke.
“We’re going to be involved in a lot of these [close] games,” Starsia said. “It just seems like it always comes down to games like this. I never thought the game was over at any stretch. I knew we were going to have to play right till the very end, and I thought our kids did play to the very end, but [Cornell is] a very good offensive lacrosse team in particular. They’re very slick and very experienced and made a play at the end to pull it out.”
Emery said: “It’s an unfortunate way to lose, but I think there’s a lot of good takeaways for us.”
With All-America midfielder Chris LaPierre, for whom a redshirt year is a possibility, out with a knee injury, Virginia played only three seniors against Cornell: Matt White, Harry Prevas and Charlie Streep.
Even so, Emery said, “I think we definitely showed flashes of some greatness, both on offense and on defense. Tanner Scales really stepped up big today and made some big plays on arguably the best player in the country. And then I think our offense had flashes where we were playing excellent team O. I think that’s something that we can definitely take away, but there’s clearly things that we can work on and improve as we move forward here, to take that next step, so we end up on the other side of these one-goal [games].”
Marino said: “You win some, you lose some. The thing is, we just gotta get back after it and get better from it, and I really think we can. That Syracuse loss was a tough loss, too. This is a tough loss. Soon these tough losses are going to turn into wins.”