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Cornell Crushes Ohio St. 16-6 to Earn Final Four Berth

The Big Red is heading back to the Final Four, after a domination 16-6 win against Ohio St. Rob Pannell lead the way with 2 goals and 6 assists. He now has 347 career points -- 6 shy of the NCAA record.
From press releases -- COLLEGE PARK, Md. – The Cornell men's lacrosse team dominated in every facet of the game and advanced to the program's fourth NCAA Final Four in the last eight years with a 16-6 victory over No. 3 Ohio State on Saturday afternoon at Maryland's Byrd Stadium. The Big Red improved to 14-3, while OSU's season ends at 13-4.

"We were very focused," said head coach Ben DeLuca. "There were a lot of reasons why our guys could have been distracted and not focused 100 percent. Our captains and our coaching staff really worked to get our guys on the right page and dialed in. They did a wonderul job and that trickled down into our senior class through practice and into the game today. I think we plaed with a ton of energy and a ton of heart and I think the results speak for themselves."

Senior attackmen Steve Mock scored a career-high seven goals, matching a Cornell record for individual goals in an NCAA tournament game, and classmate Rob Pannell one-upped him with eight points (two goals, six assists) to lead an offense that scored 16 goals in the first three quarters in exceeding its efficient production in its first round win over Maryland in the same stadium the week before.

"I said before this season that he [Steve Mock] is one of the best finishers in the NCAA and probably the best finisher I've played with," said Rob Pannell. "I just smile at some of the things he does. I wouldn't be Rob Pannell if I didn't have Steve Mock on my team."

"Playing with Rob is just amazing," added Mock. "Today ranks pretty high up there in games we've played together."

Connor Buczek had three goals and two assists, senior goalkeeper AJ Fiore made 10 saves and junior faceoff man Doug Tesoriero won 16-of-24 to seemingly give the Cornell offense every possession. The Big Red held decisive advantages in shots (37-20), ground balls (39-28), saves (10-8), faceoffs (16-10) and caused turnovers (12-8). It went 1-of-1 on the extra man and held an Ohio State team that entered the day leading the country in 50 percent efficiency on man-up to an 0-for-4 day.

The defense had another huge day in front of Fiore, with Jason Noble (three caused turnovers) and Thomas Keith (three caused turnovers, six ground balls) leading the way. Keith in particular seemed to be all over the field from start to finish. Fiore was outstanding himself, adding five ground ball wins and two caused turnovers to his 10-save effort.

The game was the polar opposite of the last meeting between the two teams in the NCAA tournament. The Buckeyes scored first when their goalie went the length of the field and scored and were off and running en route to a 15-7 victory during the first round in 2008. This time, scoring came early and often for attackmen – the ones wearing red.

Midway through the fourth quarter Ohio State took its 16th shot of the game, matching the Big Red's 16 goals. It was that type of game for the Big Red, who executed every part of the gameplan flawlessly.

Cornell will meet the winner of tomorrow's game between No. 2 Notre Dame and No. 7 Duke on Saturday, May 25 at either noon or 3 p.m. at Philadelphia's Franklin Financial Field.

Cornell won the opening faceoff clean and just 32 seconds in Buczek found Mock wide open in front to put the unseeded Big Red up 1-0. The Buckeyes tied it up two minutes later when Logan Schuss took advantage of a defensive switch and found David Planning for a quick strike.

Ohio State won its first faceoff, and after an extended possession, the Buckeyes drew a penalty and put its lethal man-up unit to the task. The Big Red was up to the task, forcing a turnover and then running out the penalty before Buczek caught the ball out wide, spun around a defender and beat Greg Dutton to put the Big Red up 2-1 midway through the first. It was 3-1 shortly after when the familiar combo of Mock to Pannell forced an Ohio State timeout.

After the stoppage, Mock recorded the hat trick when Pannell hit him for the second time 8:54, then Mock collected a Pannell shot that hit the pipe and buried the rebound to make it 5-1 just 9:35 in. Ohio State called its second timeout of the quarter after the goal to settle down the troops, but the Big Red caused consecutive Buckeye turnovers, first on a Fiore deflected a pass and the second time on an unforced OSU pass out of bounds. Buczek took a pass from Pannell after a Big Red timeout and made it 6-1 with 0:41 left in the quarter.

The second quarter didn't start with the same fireworks, as the teams traded several possessions over the first five minutes before Schuss drew a one minute penalty. Fiore made a save to get the Big Red the ball back, but turned the ball over against the ride. The Big Red called a timeout with 29 seconds left in the penalty to re-set the defense against an Ohio State extra man unit scoring at a 50 percent clip. After a scramble for possession, the Buckeyes were able to cash in to snap a scoring drought of 18:44 to make it 6-2, but only after the penalty expired.

Mock answered right back on a slick feed from Buczek to get that goal right back for his fifth of the game. After a Tesoriero faceoff win, some great interior passing against the zone ended with Chris Cook feeding Donovan for another to make it 8-2.

Ohio State's Schuss got on the board for the first time himself with a rip over Fiore's left shoulder, but Tesoriero won another faceoff and Pannell found a wide open Edmonds on the doorstep for an easy score. Pannell's fifth assist of the half came on Mock's sixth goal to make it 10-3. Mock's seventh goal came off the ensuing faceoff when longstick Keith hit Mock to make it 11-3 with 2:04 remaining.

It didn't get any easier for the Buckeyes, who early on looked dejected as the Big Red played make-it-take-it. Cornell scored two goals in the first 2:11 of the third to push the advantage to 10 goals

Ohio State scored consecutive goals for the first time when back-to-back scores to get back within 13-5 with just over 11 minutes remaining, then won the ensuing faceoff and immediately went on the extra man. A Thomas Keith trail check gave the Big Red the ball and Pannell whirled around a defender to steal the momentum back from the higher-seeded Buckeyes for his sixth point of the afternoon. Pannell won a ground ball, near midfield and ran 40 yards with a quick fake and a goal at the end to make it 15-5.

Cornell's first man-up of the day resulted in its first extra man goal, as Buczek took a long pass from Pannell, wound up and buried a long range laser to push it to 16-5 with 3:36 left in the third. That was all the Big Red would need, and it would also be all it would get.

Ohio State held Cornell scoreless in the fourth, much of it against the Big Red's second and third units, but couldn't cut into the deficit as Fiore made four saves in the fourth before being lifted for backup Brennan Donville for the final 1:29 as Cornell ran out the clock for the win.

Notes
* Cornell has advanced to championship weekend for the fourth time in seven seasons. It is the program's 13th appearance in the national semifinals in program history.
* Steve Mock posted seven goal, matching a school record in an NCAA game. That matched Mike French's legendary seven-goal effort in the 1976 NCAA championship game against Maryland. All seven of Mock's goals came in the decisive first half.
* Mock moved into eighth on the Ivy League's career goals list (143) and into third all-time at Cornell.
* Rob Pannell scored eight points (two goals, six assists) and moved into second on the NCAA's career scoring list. He ended the afternoon with 347 points, surpassing Air Force's Joe Vasta '86 (343 points). He also moved within six points of Duke's Matt Danowksi '08, who was credited with 353 points.
* Pannell's six assists give him 202, making him just the second Ivy League player to reach 200 career assists. He is now three shy of the conference record of Brown's Darren Lowe '92 (205).
* His six assists was one off the Cornell single-game NCAA record of seven set by Hall of Famer Eamon McEneaney against Rutgers in 1975.
* Pannell's eight points is tied for fourth in a single game in Cornell NCAA tournament history. He now has 15 points in two NCAA games this season, tied for fifth for most points by a Big Red player in an NCAA tournament.
* Pannell's eight points were the most in an NCAA game by a Cornell player since Tim Goldstein's eight-point game against Johns Hopkins in the 1987 national championship game.
* After three quarters with both team's starters in, Cornell had 16 goals and Ohio State had 14 total shots.
* With 10 ground ball wins, Doug Tesoriero (122) moved within five of Craig Jaeger's single season record of 127 set in 1978.
* AJ Fiore matched the great Paul Schimoler for second in career goalkeeper wins at Cornell (38).

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