May 24, 2010
Tufts ends Cortland’s reign
Bob Ellis/staff photographer
Brian Krol (25) looks for an open man after being hit by Mike Droesch of Tufts University in Sunday’s NCAA lacrosse semifinal. Though senior Krol had three goals, defending champion Cortland fell 10-9.
His collegiate lacrosse career suddenly over, SUNY Cortland midfielder Tom Burke offered this final insight.
“No one ever gets a free road to the nationals,” lamented the Red Dragon senior.
The Red Dragons certainly seemed to have a clear path towards a fifth consecutive appearance in the NCAA Division III finals Sunday afternoon, especially after a man-up goal by senior attackman Brian Krol early in the second half gave the semifinal hosts a 7-3 lead over Tufts University at the SUNY Cortland Stadium Complex.
After lopsided tournament wins over Keene State and RIT, Cortland seemed ready to cruise to yet another national title game.
That’s when the Jumbos came up really, really big.
Starting with a string of six unanswered second half goals and ending with goalie Steve Foglietta making a last-second one-on-one save, Tufts pulled off a 10-9 upset of the defending national champions. Sophomore midfielder Kevin McCormick scored the game-winning goal with exactly three minutes left to be played.
“They just seemed to want it more than we did, and now I get to watch them play in Baltimore next weekend,” said a somber Burke, who had done his part to keep the Red Dragons alive.
After seeing Cortland’s four-goal lead turn into a 9-7 fourth quarter deficit, Burke shook free from a defender and scored with 7:18 left to play to put an end to Tufts’ string of success. He then provided the fast break pass that sophomore attackman Chris Wright turned into a game-tying goal with 3:48 left to play.
The Cortland revival stopped there.
Shortly thereafter Tufts’ Jamie Atkins was pressing the crease from behind the goal, forced the Cortland defense to react, and found McCormick out on top where his low shot from 15 yards away found net to put the visitors back in front.
Both teams traded turnovers and missed opportunities the rest of the way, the last Cortland gasp coming in the final seconds when senior midfielder Brandon Misiaszek — the MVP of last year’s championship game win over Gettysburg — broke free from behind the net and raced in on the crease.
His attempt to save the day was stuffed by Foglietta. It was the 16th save of the game for the stellar sophomore goalie.
With Foglietta coming up especially big in the early going when Cortland was on the verge of blowing out the visitors from the suburbs of Boston, with sophomore midfielder Nick Rhoads dominating second half faceoffs and giving the visitors an edge in that crucial department, Tufts will be in Baltimore this coming Sunday to take on perennial power Salisbury at noon in the tournament finals. Salisbury nipped Stevenson 14-13 in overtime in the other semifinal Sunday.
Despite three goals from Krol, while Burke finished with a pair of goals and three assists, this Cortland campaign comes to an end with a 17-3 record. Those three losses came by a total of four goals.
Tufts ended Cortland’s 16-game winning streak, too.
“THE GOALIE WAS outstanding,” said Cortland coach Steve Beville, though Cortland’s own miscues were probably more damaging than Foglietta‘s stinginess.
“I give them a lot of credit for being tough and they stayed the course,” said Beville after Cortland out-shot Tufts 15-2 in the opening quarter while building a 3-1 lead. “They out-played us, basically. I thought the whole second half was theirs and we didn’t step up to the plate. A lot of our guys were making a lot of uncharacteristic, sloppy mistakes that cost us later in the game.”
“They came out firing,” said Foglietta of the early Cortland onslaught. Tufts did not even get a shot off until Matt Witko scored with 3:42 left in the opening quarter.
“They’re a great team and we didn’t expect anything less than they’re best game,” added Long Islander Foglietta. “They got off to an early lead, but our defense just stayed calm, stayed composed and we just fought through it.”
“I think we were trying a little too hard and going a little too fast,” said Tufts coach Mike Daly. “We just settled back on our fundamentals and that’s what helped us.”
Three goals by Sean Kirwan in the third quarter stoked Tufts’ confidence and trimmed the Cortland lead to 7-6. With just over three minutes gone into the fourth quarter, Tufts scoring leader D.J. Hessler struck to even things up — tucking away a shot after Cortland freshman goalie Mike Kaminski made back-to-back saves the fast-breaking Jumbos.
Long-stick midfielder Alec Bialosky cranked a shot from the right win (his eighth goal of the season), McCormick scored a man-up goal and Tufts was ahead 9-7 with 10:37 left to play.
“We didn’t score for 21 minutes, and that’s unlike us,” said Burke of the decisive Tufts spurt.
“The bottom line is they took care of business and did what they had to do to win, and we had way too many turnovers to overcome a good team like that,” said Beville. “We had a lack of poise and guys didn’t step up. We really needed some people to step up there in the end and it didn’t happen.”
CORTLAND FINISHED with a 40-31 shot edge, though Tufts won the ground ball battle 46-30 and had a 13-10 edge in faceoffs thanks to the work of Rhoads. Kevin and McCormick had hat tricks, Witko had two goals and Hessler a pair of assists to go along with his fourth quarter goal.
While Krol and Burke were the top scores in their final games, Wright finished with two goals and an assist while fellow attackmen Jay DiStefano and Mike Toot also scored. Kaminski had seven saves in Cortland for Cortland, while junior Justin Schneidman had a solid day defensively including forcing a couple of key late turnovers.
Burke was the only middie to pick up a point for Cortland, the Tufts game plan of keeping junior midfielder Chris DeLuca under wraps paying off. De Luca, who had five goals in Cortland’s semifinal win over RIT, was limited to three shots in this game but did come up with 11 ground balls.
Krol, Total and Wright had first quarter goals when Cortland had the early advantage that probably should have been even larger. Considering Tufts was making its first-ever appearance in the semifinals, this only the third NCAA appearance in school history, the Jumbos responded well to that early adversity.
“We don’t get rattled,” said goalie Foglietta, whose team had rallied with four goals in the fourth quarter to beat Middlebury 11-8 in the quarterfinals earlier in the week. “We stay calm, keep our course. You play tough lacrosse and you can get through anything.”
“It is what it is,” said Beville of the Cortland setback. “When you have massive expectations every year, it’s going to be a disappointment when you don’t play in the championship game every year. We’ll see what we’re made of and we’ll be back next year.”
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