(Photo Courtesy of Delaware Athletics)
In 2013, Ben Deluca led the Cornell Big Red to Championship Weekend with a big three of Rob Pannell, Steve Mock, and Connor Buczek. Nine years later, Cornell is headed back to the final four after a Buczek coached Big Red squad defeated a DeLuca coached Delaware team 10-8 in Columbus, Ohio on Sunday afternoon.
With just over 10 minutes left in regulation, Billy Coyle forced a failed Blue Hen clear. Michael Long grabbed the ground ball and almost immediately let it fly, putting home his first of the day to pull Cornell ahead 8-7. From that point on, Cornell seemingly kicked it into another gear as they never trailed or saw the game tied for the rest of the contest.
Angelo Petrakis (15-for-19) won the ensuing faceoff and the Big Red got off three shots before turning it over. However, the Cornell ride came up victorious once again as CJ Kirst forced the failed Delaware clear. After a Matt Kilkeary save, Delaware would move the ball over the midline before being called offsides to give Cornell the ball back.
Spencer Wirtheim scored off that very Blue Hens turnover and just over a minute later, Billy Coyle put home another one to extend the Cornell run to three goals and put them ahead 10-7.
While a man-up score from Tye Kurtz with 40 seconds remaining gave Delaware some late-game momentum, it was those prior few sequences that helped to seal the deal for Cornell and send them back to Championship Weekend.
Petrakis’ dominance (5-0) in the fourth quarter and Chayse Ierlan’s nine second-half saves helped push the Big Red over the edge in those final few frames. Cornell held Delaware scoreless for nearly the entire fourth quarter in what was a dominant stretch on both ends. But that late-game stretch was just the second of two strong stretches from the Big Red on the day.
Cornell held Delaware scoreless for a 20-plus minute stretch while putting home five goals of their own. The run started at the 1:28 mark in the first quarter with a Spencer Wirtheim and ended at the 8:47 mark of the third with a John Piatelli goal.
With much attention placed on CJ Kirst by the Blue Hens’ defense, Piatelli emerged as the offensive leader for the Big Red. He put home the first two goals of the game and walked off the field with a hat trick. Kirst had just one goal, popping off a screen in front of the cage and cashing in on a Michael Long feed to put the Big Red up 5-4 at half and help highlight that large run in the middle of the game.
Tye Kurtz led the Blue Hens with five goals on the day. Three of those cam consecutively in the third quarter as the Blue Hens’ offense was able to use their crisp ball movement and off-ball play to get Kurtz open for clean looks on cage three different times in the final six minutes of the third. Kurtz’s final goal of the day tied things at 7 and was the last significant push the Blue Hens were able to get.
Gavin Adler was matched up on Delaware’s leading scorer, JP Ward, most of the day and held him to just one assist.
Chayse Ierlan had 15 saves for Cornell while Matt Kilkeay made 12.
Cornell will advance to play Rutgers next Saturday in the NCAA semifinals. It’ll pit Big Red attackman CJ Kirst up against his brother, Colin, who is the goalie for the Scarlet Knights.