Pannell Paces No. 8 Cornell Past No. 5 Maryland in First Round

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- On Saturday evening, lightning struck the Cornell lacrosse team's hotel in College Park. If lightning strikes the same place twice, the Big Red will have a chance to see it again next weekend.

Cornell methodically picked apart one of the nation's best defenses on its own homefield, caused havoc on defense, dominated special teams and controlled every aspect of the game in topping No. 6 seed Maryland 16-8 on Sunday afternoon at Byrd Stadium in the first round of the 2013 NCAA Tournament. The Big Red improved to 13-3, while the two-time defending national finalst Terrapins had their season end at 10-4.

Fifth-year senior Rob Pannell continued his assault on the Cornell record book with a seven-point day against Maryland, moving into second place on the school's career goal scoring list with 143. That mark ranks eighth in Ivy League history.

His favorite target, classmate Steve Mock, became the first Big Red player to post at least 50 goals in a season since Mike French in 1976 with his four scores. Mock also set a Cornell record with fastest consecutive goals by the same player when he found the back of the net twice within five seconds of the game clock midway through the fourth quarter.

The duo might have spearheaded the offense, but it was the defense and face-off game that set the tone. Senior AJ Fiore had 12 saves, including a number at key moments, Cornell dominated loose balls off the ground (43-29) and won 16 of 26 face-offs behind Doug Tesoriero, who won 15 of 25 face-offs with 13 ground balls and even assisted on a goal in the win. Jordan Stevens caused five turnovers and won six ground balls and the unit of Tom Freshour, Jason Noble and Thomas Keith made play after play in front of Fiore.

The successful face-off unit wasn't all special teams provided. Cornell converted on 2 of 3 extra-man opportunities and held the high-powered Terps to 0 for 4 on the extra-man.

The first midfield trio of Max Van Bourgondien, Connor Buczek and Connor English each had a goal and an assist. In all, 11 players were credited with at least one point, with Matt Donovan posting two goals and an assist with four ground ball wins.

Entering the game, Maryland was allowing just 7.6 goals per game and had allowed 10 goals or more just three times. Cornell did that work in the second half alone, outscoring the home team 10-4. That came after a first half the visitors controlled, but couldn't put away. The Big Red led 6-4 at halftime, but it felt as though a Maryland run was always on the horizon.

It never came. Maryland only scored consecutive goals once in the game, and that came early in the second quarter.

In a series Cornell entered trailing 13-3-1, the Big Red improved to 3-1 all-time against the Terrapins in NCAA tournament play. With legendary Cornell coach and Maryland alum Richie Moran in the stands, Cornell played with the fire and passion it was missing in its Ivy League tournament semifinal loss at home to Princeton, a game that likely forced the Big Red on the road in the first round.

That effort could easily be stated by looking at one play. Leading 9-6 with under four minutes to play in the third quarter, Maryland's John Haus sent a shot wide. Senior Jason Noble beat the Terp's backup to the end line after what seemed like a sure Maryland possession, diving and landing with his stick at the end line before the jogging Maryland player.

hat triggered a run that started with a no-look, spinning goal by Rob Pannell with 37 seconds left in the half and ended when Buczek tallied with just 2:16 left in the game. In between, Cornell scored seven of eight goals and turned a tight three-goal game into a 16-7 rout.

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