NCAA First Round: Cornell Overcomes Slow Start, Rides Behind Kirst’s Seven Goals to Top Ohio State

(Photo Courtesy of Cornell Athletics)

The Ohio State Buckeyes will not be playing in their home stadium next weekend in the NCAA Quarterfinals. It will be the Cornell Big Red who will be moving on top Columbus after defeating the Buckeyes 15-8 in Ithaca.

It marks the second time the Big Red have sent the Buckeyes home with a loss. Cornell beat Ohio State 14-11 back on March 5th.

Sunday’s contest, originally schedule for 2:30, didn’t get underway until 2:45 due to a lightning delay. Then after an opening frame where Ohio State pulled ahead 4-0 and a pair of CJ Kirst goals early in the second quarter, play was stopped once more for another lightning delay. Play wouldn’t resume until an hour and a half later.

In some respects, the start of this game mirrored how Cornell opened. Slow. The Big Red were blanked in the first quarter while the Buckeyes, on the other hand, blitzed out ahead with four scores. That included a 65-yard bomb from Tyler Gallagher to take advantage of the Cornell 10-man ride. It was only a pair of consecutive goals within 46 seconds of each other from CJ Kirst the Big Red would get through those first 19 minutes of play.

But that too was somewhat of a glimpse of what was to come.

As the weather passed and play resumed, Cornell found its mojo. Michael Long put home a feed from Spencer Wirtheim to get Cornell their first goal post-weather delay and cut the Buckeyes lead to 5-3. Hugh Kelleher followed with one of his own on the ensuing possession to make it a one-goal, 5-4, game.

Once the page turned to the third quarter, Cornell was even better and CJ Kirst came out of the woodwork once again. The Big Red outscored the Buckeyes 6-1 in the third frame and 5-2 in the fourth to secure the seven-goal victory.

CJ Kirst linked up with John Piatelli once and Matt Licciardi twice during the the third quarter for scores. He also put home an unassisted goal during the frame. With 7:49 left in the fourth, Hugh Kelleher beat the short-stick and moved the ball down to Kirst as the slide approached. Kirst proceeded to wind up and sting the back of the cage on a time and room look for his seventh and final goal of the day.

Kirst’s seven goals ties a program record for goals in an NCAA Tournament game.

On top of Kirst’s career day, John Piatelli tallied six points off five goals and one assist. Michael Long also had one goal and two assists, brining the combined total of that Cornell starting attack unit to 16 points (13 goals).

Gavin Adler grabbed five ground balls and caused three turnovers while Chayse Ierlan made 13 saves in cage. The Cornell defense held the Buckeyes to just four goals after play resumed in the second quarter.

Two of those Buckeye scores came from Jack Myers (2G/1A). Colby Smith also had two goals as he put home two of the first-quarter scores for Ohio State.

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