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Cornell Collapse

Cornell’s attempt to win their first title since 1978 falls short. Cornell had played brilliantly for the past 175 minutes. In their wins over Princeton, and UVA, Cornell controlled play from whistle to whistle. Even in the Championship game, Cornell looked dominating until the last 3:47 of the game.

John Glynn opened up the scoring with the first two Cornell goals, as it looked like it was going to be a long day for the Syracuse faithful. Syracuse finally got on the board with 5:46 left on a play that would epitomize Syracuse’s day. Daniello shot and was stuffed by Cornell goalie Jake Myers. In the ensuing scrum for the rebound behind the net, Daniello scooped up the ball drove around the other side of the cage and scored. Cornell would win the strategic game play, but SU would win the unsettled situations.

Each team would ad one more goal, so at the end of the first quarter it was 3-2 Cornell. While time of possession is not an official stat, by my estimate it would have been 10 minutes Cornel to 5 Syracuse.

Cornell was methodical as their defense started playing a very tight zone. This kept SU from getting any good scoring chances in tight. Their offense was virtually running the clock. For all you youngsters out there, Cornell is a prime example of why backing up a shot is necessary. On almost every shot that went out, Cornell got the ball back.

The second quarter saw much of the same, as Cornell added another 3 goals and Syracuse 2, making it 6-4 Cornell at the half. Syracuse’s defense looked sluggish. They just weren’t getting it done at this point, and their man-down defense that had been so good all year was 50% as Max Seibald connected on an EMO chance in the 2nd.

The third quarter was boring. Cornell dominated the clock however, after halftime, SU’s defense seemed to wake up. Cornell only netted one goal in the third quarter and did not convert on their two EMO opportunities. While Syracuse only had 3 shots, one of them went in from Josh Amidon. At the end of the third, it was 7-5 Cornell.

All year long Syracuse scored in surges. Typically it came in the late second or third quarters. They might average 1-2 per quarter and then all of a sudden nail 4 in a short span of time.

In the fourth quarter, there seemed to be no spurt. When Roy Lang scored to put Cornell up by 3 with 5:31 remaining in the game, some even in the press box started to write Syracuse off…literally prepping their stories for how Cornell broke into the Fab4 of lacrosse. The SU faithful kept holding on for that late spurt. And then it came.

Tierney came with an over the head check on a Cornell player stripping the ball leading to a Hardy to Keogh goal. Syracuse was down by 2. Less than a minute later, Amadon found Cody Jamison for another goal. Syracuse down by 1 with 2:46 left.

The last 35 seconds of the game should be immortalized. Syracuse had the ball on offense and threw the ball away with less than 30 to go in the game. It all but sealed the fate of the game. Cornell had to clear the ball from their end line.

Max Seibald passed the ball up to defenseman Matt Moyer. Kenny Nims was all over Moyer, and in one fleeting diving check, knocked the ball loose. Somehow Keogh got the loose ball and hurled it up to anyone. Matt Abbott pulled the ball in and cheaped another pass in the general direction of the goal. The ball was tipped off of Cornell Middie Roy Lang’s stick right to Nims who gets a falling shot past Jake Myers for the game tying goal with 4 seconds left.

Sudden Death

Cornell won the faceoff and in a move I can not understand, they did not call a time out to set up a play and halt the SU momentum that had been building up. Instead Sid Smith stripped the ball giving possession to Syracuse.

Hardy drove in and looked like he wanted the take. As Cody Jamison’s defender slid to pick up Hardy, Hardy passed to Cody sitting on the side of the goal for an easy goal to win it in OT.

Syracuse won their 11th title. Cornell was denied history. Max Seibald will forever be haunted by the number 4. Max Seibald said, “Four seconds away … It seems to be a number that haunts us. When we sophomores, that was the number on the board when Duke scored on us. That makes it even tougher for us.”

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Syracuse came back from a late 3 goal deficit to defeat Cornell in overtime.

Hirbod Azmi checks in after the D2 championship game

Well the 2nd champion was crowned this afternoon, congratulations to C.W. Post on defeating Le moyne college 8-7 to win the division II national championship. Another great game to watch and it came down to the to the end but unfortunately Le Moyne was unable to tie the game with 1 minute to go. They had 3 great shots and 2 were saved and one went wide. The weather held up for the most part, it did start to rain again towards the end of the game and pretty hard during the trophy ceremony. After taking a bunch of celebration shots I grabbed all my equipment and headed for cover.

Thankfully the game ended when it did because on the ride back to the hotel it was pouring like no other, after 20 minutes of not being able see where we were going the sun came out and we got to see a full rainbow. I did not have my camera handy but Sparky came to the rescue so if the rainbow doesn’t look good it wasn’t me.

After unpacking and getting everything ready for tomorrow we decided to head into the big city of Boston for some post-lacrosse activates.

Cornell should walk off the field with their heads held high.  They had a great season and Jeff Tambroni is obviously a good coach.  But they really blew their chance.  And it was some coaching mistakes that are probably most to blame.

Late game coaching mistakes

  1. With roughly 8 minutes left in the game Cornell was trying to kill time when they were on man-up offense.  There was then a 2nd penalty and they were still content to hold the ball.  Cornell was only up 1 goal at that point.  With a man advantage and 8 minutes left, they should be trying to score, regardless of the size of the lead.  They never even attempted a shot on the 1st man advantage.  Another goal sure would have helped.
  2. Not getting a shot off when there is a delayed flag.  This is one of the most common mistakes in lacrosse these days - at any level.  Where there is a flag down and play-on situation, it’s a free shot.  Almost any shot is a good shot.  If you start paying attention you’ll notice how infrequently teams get off shots when there is a play-on penalty.  Cornell missed two free shot opportunities.  The players should be coach to recognize these situations and shoot the ball!
  3. Cornell was up 1 goal with about 1:30 left in the game.  They had the ball in Syracuse’s box and just needed to run out the clock.  Cornell’s Roy Lang (who Quint Kessenich refered to as awkward) had the ball covered by Abbott.  It was clear Abbott was working to take the ball away and that Lang was in trouble.  Cornell should have take the timeout.  Even if it meant Syracuse put a pole on the ball don’t you like any matchup with Seibald, Glynn,  or any attackman better?
  4. With roughly 25 seconds left in the game Cornell was given possession behind their goal to clear the ball.  They weren’t setup, they pushed the ball up field using a defenseman to try and dodge. Cornell should have taken a timeout and setup a clear. Or even brought Seibald down to run the ball.  This was the most obvious mistake at the end of the game.
  5. [EDIT] - The commenter made a good point which was meant to be on this list. When you get the ball in OT you call a timeout if you don’t have the best matchup on the field.  No reason to save the TO in OT.

Yes hindsight is 20/20, and being the head coach of a college lacrosse team playing on Memorial day is a monumental task. But making a different coaching decision on any of those three key 4th quarter situations likely wins the game for them.

Hirbod Azmi checks back in from the sideline.

Our first champion of the weekend was crowned, congratulations to the Cortland State Red Dragons. They defeated Gettysburg College by the score of 9-7. A great game to watch, there was some sloppy play at times but Cortland’s goalie Matt Hipenbecker played a great game which helped Cortland set a school record for most wins and a national championship.

With 2 minutes left in the game I was getting a little nervous because the black clouds were rolling in. you can hear the lightning and thunder but there refs didn’t call the game and I got lucky. Got the game winning picks in and ran upstairs to the press box just in time before the pouring rain.

Im sitting here in the press box watching the C.W. Post VS. Lemoyne game and writing this blog before I get back on the field to take some more picks. Lets hope the rain stops…

Where’s the Love for D2 and D3 Lacrosse?

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SUNY Cortland celebrates their schools 2nd National Championship

The Division 2/Division 3 Championships had less of a turnout than the D1 semis. This is nothing new. Traditionally during the D2/D3 day, many families when in Balti/Philly would find something to do on their “off” day. Historically the attendance is less than half that during semi-day. Personally I don’t understand why. Traditionally these games are closer and more exciting than the D1 games. But don’t take my word for it:

As one fan, Gary Price put it, “We just finished having a game of pick up lacrosse and mocking the Virginia defense. About the D2/D3 finals, how do you not go if you are a lacrosse fan. They are usually better than the D1 games. There is a lot less substitution and a lot less B.S. It is more pure lacrosse.” This sentiment is echoed by not only other casual fans tailgating during the games, but also lacrosse legend John Grant Jr. He told E-lacrosse, that he prefers the D2/D3 games over the D1 games.

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C.W. Post celebrates their 2nd National Championship - and first since 1996.

The D2/D3 championships are the epitome of the game. I know, the players might not be as skilled or as developed physically…however they are also not over coached. What I mean by this is that they have the freedom to play a run and gun style. There is also a lot of turnover and transition work. There is more “heart” in their play.

Since 2003, the D1 championship has been decided by 1 goal 3 times. Since 2003, the D2 championship has been decided by 1 goal 3 times, as well as the D3 championship being decided by 1 goal 3 times.

I’m watching the D3 championship before heading out to film more of the tailgate show we do each year. Gettysburg leads Cortland 4-2. I was surprised to see Gettysburg make the final after watching them get hammered by Stevenson earlier in the year, but I really like Hank Janczyk, the Gettysburg Coach, so I am glad he’s in. I can’t root for anyone up here in the press box, but I would root for the Bullets if I did. On the other hand there’s a chance for a total run of the table by upstate New York as Syracuse plays Cornell tomorrow and LeMoyne and Cortland have opportunities to win titles today. Remember that Onondaga already won the JUCO title last week. I’m not from upstate but I wouldn’t mind seeing them take all the titles again, rewarding the blue collar style of lacrosse they play up there.

I predicted Virginia to crush Cornell, but am so glad the opposite occurred. I really think certain sacrifices were made at Virginia over the last two years in the quest for a title that were errors in my judgment. A well rounded team with lots of experience would perhaps been able to recover against Cornell, but the guys with the skills to make that comeback were on the bench as they have been all year. I have nothing against the Brattons, either of them. But, neither has the abilities to carry a team to a title. That was obvious to me years ago when they played U-19 and should not have made that team. There are much better players, in my opinion, riding pine for UVa so that the twins can learn, on the field, things these other kids have known since 8th and 9th grade. This year, I thought UVa had enough talent all around to win anyway, but obviously not. If the Tewaaraton folks were watching I also think Glading is out of the running, as is Duke’s Ned Crotty as far as I am concerned. Enter Cornell’s John Glynn, who dominated Virginia even with an elbow injury. He’s not a finalist for the Tewaaraton award, but his excellent play may end up helping teammate Max Seibald win the award.

Cornell has a history of playing Syracuse tough so that may just be a great game and may even be a Cornell championship, which would be huge for the game and it’s escape from the grasp of the elite teams we see win year in and year out. So while I love the ‘Cuse and have since I was a kid, I want Cornell to win.

A few notes from the event in general. Yesterday, we tried to interview a guy leaving the Cornell Virginia game carrying a huge stuffed bear on his back. But when we caught up with him and asked for an interview after the Cornell win, he refused. No wonder. He was wearing Virginia shorts and shirt and had obviously stolen the bear mascot and was making an elusive exit from the stadium. I am sure that some Charlottesville frat house will be the new home of the Cornell bear. Some small consolation for a loyal fan who drove 10-15 hours to see his team choke.

There’s a guy for CBS College Sports on the field carrying a 50 pound TV camera on his back as he roams the sideline and runs on the field for close ups after goals and such. He will shoot both the D2 and D3 games with that monstrosity on his back. He is my MVP of the event. He just narrowly beats the excellent and friendly staff at Gillette Stadium. For the second year in a row they have performed exceptionally. One friendly employee really helped us out in navigation the complex parking lot to get from one spot to another amidst hectic traffic. She literally drove out of her way to let us follow her to the spot we needed to find. Thanks!

The press food at the D3 championship game is, for the first time ever, better than the D2 semis. I swear the chicken is garnished with leeks. There’s a Tomato and Mozzarella salad. I thought we might wait until San Francisco hosted the games in 2034 to get such fare at a lacrosse game. The pressure is on for Baltimore next year. I am thinking Crab dip and Berger Cookies.

The Patriot Place shopping area was completed in the off-season which makes the whole area a lot more convenient to be stranded for three days. An entire shopping mall and hotel complex now surrounds the stadium and the parking area seems to have doubled.

The only real mess up, from an organizational standpoint happened today, as the Sunday ticket received by all who bought the three day ticket package had the times of today’s games as 1:30 and 4:30 while the games really started at 12:00 and 2:30. The crowd has picked up considerably for the D3 game’s second half, many missing the first as they took their time getting to the venue because of the late start time they assumed was correct. Imagine sitting in a Denny’s eating your egg and bacon skillet while your team is playing without you after 8 hour drive to see the game.

I spoke to John Grant, Jr. and legendary Cornell coach Richie Moran today and they both love the D3 and D2 games. Jr. never goes into the D1 games, preferring the tailgate scene for Saturday and Monday. But he faithfully watches the Sunday games, saying they are just more exciting to watch. Coach Moran and I agreed that it’s the flaws that teams have and the exploitation of them that makes for great lacrosse and often at the D1 level, those are far and few between. It’s like the difference between college and pro basketball. I am addicted to college hoops and hate the pro game for exactly that reason and a couple others.

Yesterday, we passed an area where what looked like a carry on sized piece of luggage had been abandoned on the main concourse of the stadium. An announcement had been made to find the owner but the security around the bag was thick and dead serious, as it should be in a 50,000 person crowd with today’s post-911 sensibilities. So today, there are bomb dogs present at the venue. It feels weird but whatever they have to do for the safety of our community here in Foxboro, is ok with me.

Looks like Cortland is going to beat Gettysburg. It’s now 9-6 with 1:08 left and I am off to start today’s tailgate show. Talk to you tomorrow!

Central New York Final

Cornell face Syracuse for the National title and bragging rights for the best in Central New York.
Cornell is just about an hours drive down Interstate 81.

Lax geek fact:
The last time Cornell was in the Championship game was in 1988. Which just happened to be against Syracuse. And in 1998 as well as 2009, Cornell defeated Virginia in the tournament to get to the title game. In 1998, Cornel beat UVA 19-6 before losing to Syracuse 8-13.

If Syracuse were to win, the running joke is that they would need the ring to be a toe ring, as they already have 10. If Cornell were to win, it would be the first time in 18 years someone other than UVA/Princeton/Syracuse/Hopkins has won.

These two teams have already faced each other this year. Syracuse won that contest 15-10.
In the previous meeting, Cornell scored early and inside, which happens to be one of my biggest disappointments about Syracuse all year. Cornell stayed with ‘Cuse for the first quarter and was tied 4-4. Then the Syracuse spurt occurred in the second and third quarters. Max Siebald was held to 1 goal and 1 assist, and Jake Myers had 10 saves and 15 goals against. If I were to just look at the last time they played each other, I would feel comfortable picking Cuse by 5 or 6.

However, I have seen Cornell live the past two weeks beat Princeton, and beat UVA. They look flawless. They are not making unforced errors. They are methodical in executing THEIR game plan. I believe in the UVA game, if it weren’t for Ghitelman making like a sieve and letting everything through, Cornell still would have won, but the score would have been at least a little closer.

Syracuse’s defense had been a worry for me, especially with having Sid Smith guard Ned Crotty. Smith performed exceedingly well, as did Galloway as SU clamped down on the defensive side of the field. But as is the MO with ‘Cuse, their aim is just to score as much as possible and hope it is enough.

This game is setting up to be a classic. Cornell is a good team and is playing hot right now. Syracuse is a great team that does make some mistakes. On one hand I would like to see Cornell break the strangle hold of 4. On the other hand, I have always been a Cuse fan as watching a Gait game got me into the sport (minus the Mikey years). I think Cornell has the talent and team play. They also have the momentum. Syracuse has the swagger. They have been here before…many many times.

In this game I am going to say that Cuse with their amazing amount of offensive weaponry proves to much to handle and wins by 2.

Hirbod Azmi checks in from the sideline at the 2009 Championships

Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend so far, this is my first Final four with a press/photo pass so it’s a big change and very exciting in a different perspective. I was fortunate enough to play in 2 championships and attend many final four’s through the years. Well my day started early for me, I really didn’t feel like sitting in Memorial day traffic on Friday night so I decided that I would leave at 5:30 Sat morning. About hour and half into the rainy ride I couldn’t keep my eyes open so I pulled over into one of the rest stops and took a nice 20 minute nap and then I was on my way. I got to good ol Brockton at around 9:15 and met up with John and he showed me to our wonderful room which smells like mold and smoke and for some reason we have a perfect round melted circle in our carpet.

At around 10:15 or so we meet up with Sparky & Josh Cornett and we piled in the E-lax toureg and were off to the Gillette stadium. We parked the car and were off to get our media passes and I feel like a little kid at this time, I haven’t been this excited for something in a while. I grab my pass and I’m in the stadium, I walked around a bit to check out the locker room and other goodies but I’m approached by one of the ladies in yellow and she kindly escorts me to the field and tells me that I’m not allowed to just mosey around.

As I get on the field I look around and the stadium which is starting to pack in and Syracuse and Duke are warming up so I get all my photo gear set up and I’m ready to take shots. I just got a new camera so I play around with it a bit to make sure that I know what I’m doing(some people out there may argue with that statement) and find the best spot on the field to get the best shots. I snap about 230 picks for the first half and during half time I run into Harry from the crease monkeys and spoke to him for a bit and found out where the Monkeys camp was set up, also ran into Kylor Berkman and wished him luck, lets hope he gets on a team this summer( MLL draft is this wed). I took another 200 shots for the second half and after a Syracuse win I had to sit down for a bit to relax the legs. Found a place to sit on the sideline and just watched the crowd. Watched Cornell and UVA goalies warming up and the rest of the players slowly came out and it was game time. For this game I moved around a bit and for the first time I was allowed on the same side as the bench so that was pretty cool, getting a different vantage point and I really think my foot may have been on TV……

After a big red win I followed Harry to the Monkeys tail gate, had some food and drinks and ran into some old friends. Hung around for a couple of hours and by this time it was 7:30 and it was time to head back to the Moldy Hotel. Downloaded my 800 picks and deleted about 200 so I have 600 shots to work with, hopefully Ill have 20-30 shots I can share with you guys.

Around 9 we got a call from Sparky & Josh that they were down at the sports bar in the hotel so John and I met up with them. After a couple of games of pool and some drinks I did something that I have never done or seen before and I have to ask the audience what the is correct call: If you hit the 8 ball in and scratch on the break do you win or lose the game?  Well I Lost the game but I still think I should have won……

It was around 12 by now and I was off to bed to get ready for Sunday’s game and festivities.

Here are a few photos from yesterday’s crowd and sidleines.

Wahoos Lose

Cornell pulled off a huge upset as they defeated the #1 ranked University of Virginia Cavaliers.  The Big Red played flawlessly. Their game plan was possession. Just like last week Cornell controlled the tempo of the game. They couldn’t help the fact that just about everything they threw at Virginia goaltender Adam Ghitelman seemed to get sucked in like a black hole into the net. At the end of the first half he only had 2 saves, and 8 goals against.

I will say this for Ghitelman, his defense was not helping the situation. Between missed coverages, poor slides, players just not having their head on a swivel and missing the cutters, it just seemed like no one was communicating out there on defense.

UVA didn’t get the ball on offense much. Cornell baked up their shots, and Ghitelman wasn’t making any saves. When UVA did try and transition, they committed some unforced turnovers. When they did have scoring opportunities (when not completely missing the goal), Cornell goalie, Jake Myers made the necessary stops.

I called it in my preview…when UVA middies get stymied, UVA loses. Virginia’s midfield totaled 1 goal and no assists. On the flipside, Cornell had 8 players with goals.

The show-down is set for a Central New York final…the question remains…will SU get title#10, or will Max Siebald carry his team to their first title in 21 years.

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