Yesterday afternoon, the Cortland Red Dragons Men’s Lacrosse team hosted the Geneseo Knights in the SUNYAC Championship game. The Red Dragons took the lead early and never looked back.
This game was a battle. The first half was made up of defense, more defense, and even more defense. Neither team allowed many scoring opportunities in the first half and the goalkeepers were playing masterfully.
Cortland won the first faceoff of the game and Joey Panarielo scored quickly, giving the team the lead less than a minute into the game. Just a few minutes later Brandon Stiles scored the second goal of the game for the Red Dragons and they seemingly had all the momentum in their favor.
That was until senior defenseman, Mike McNaney went down with an apparent knee injury and needed help walking off the field. After that point, the Knights tied it up with goals from Dillon Rogers and Tim Fallo.
It looked like the period was going to end in a tie until Cortland mounted a quick offensive attack in the last 90 seconds to take a one-goal lead, and regain momentum.
To open the second period Cortland again won the faceoff and scored, less than 90 seconds into the period. The rest of the half was dominated by defense with neither team allowing any good looks. The Red Dragons only had six shots in the period with four on goal. The Knights had six shots total with none on goal.
The best opportunity for the Knights to score was when Brandon Croteau, a Cortland defenseman, was called for slashing, putting Cortland down a man for a minute. Cortland shut the door on this scoring opportunity with great communication and they survived the disadvantage to then score with a goal from Tristan Moreno with a minute remaining in the half to take a 5-2 lead.
The second half had quite a different story than the first. Both teams came out firing as they apparently made some strong offensive adjustments.
Similar to the first and second periods, Cortland won the faceoff and scored a quick goal. Dean Riley put one in the net just 50 seconds into the period to give Cortland a four-goal lead.
Geneseo answered with two consecutive goals from Cameron Chiodo and Jake Steffen. Steffens goal came after Anthony Marcuccilli was called for pushing, giving Geneseo a man-up opportunity.
The score was now 6-4 and this two-goal deficit was the closest that Geneseo would get to Cortland for the rest of the way. The Red Dragons scored two goals of their own and then each team alternated scoring for the rest of the period as Cortland had a 10-6 lead going into the final period and they were clearly in charge of the game.
The fourth quarter started with a goal by Geneseo, but Cortland then scored three consecutive goals, the last coming with just 2:30 seconds remaining and they clearly had the game in hand with a 13-7 lead. Geneseo did their best to score quickly as they put two in the net within a minute of each other, but the damage was done.
Cortland was the better team throughout this one. They won 17 out of 25 faceoffs, had 12 more shots on goal, and did not allow Geneseo to take the lead at any point in the game. Dean Riley, Brandon Stiles, Terrance Haggerty, and Dante Yacavone each had two goals. Haggerty also had three assists and was clearly the offensive star in this one.
Cortland will move on to the Division III National Championship Bracket as they will look for their first National Championship victory in 2009. If the team plays the way they did today in the tournament, they will definitely have a shot to win the National Championship.