(Photo Courtesy of Eldon Lindsay/Cornell Athletics)
For the first time since 2009, the Cornell Big Red have earned the right to play on Memorial Day.
On Saturday afternoon, the Big Red survived a three-hour lightning delay and stayed the course en route to a 17-10 victory over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights to advance to the national title game.
Just over five minutes into the contest, Mitch Bartolo got Rutgers on the board first but it wouldn’t take long for Cornell to get going themselves. The Big Red attack line of John Piatelli, CJ Kirst, and Michael Long each found the back of the net in the opening frame. On the other end, Chayse Ierlan made five saves to anchor a defense that would soon prove to be too much for the Scarlet Knights’ offense. Angelo Petrakis went 4-for-5 in that opening frame as well.
It was a glimpse of what was to come.
The attack line of Piatelli (5G/1A), Long (4G/1A), and Kirst (3G/1A) combined for 12 goals and 15 points. Hugh Kelleher netted a hat trick to highlight a Big Red midfield unit that also saw Billy Coyle and Ryan Sheehan find the back of the net, and saw Aiden Blake return to the field as a reserve after being out since March.
Ierlan ended the day with 15 saves while defenseman Gavin Adler grabbed seven ground balls, caused two turnovers, and recorded an assist. LSM Joseph Bartolotto III caused three turnovers and grabbed two ground balls.
Petrakis went 13-for-21(61%) at the dot. Cornell held Rutgers to a 15-for-20 mark in the clearing game and won the ground ball battle 45-36.
Kelleher, often seen dodging hard and fast out of the box, scored two of his goals during what was a strong second quarter for the Big Red. Cornell forced two failed Rutgers clears within the final 6:17 of the first half and capitalized on both, getting a pair of scores from Long to help push the Big Red ahead 8-3 at the break.
Heading into the break at around 1pm, the two sides wouldn’t get back on the field until 4:45 due to a nearly four-hour lightning delay. But despite the extended break in action, Cornell would not be stifled.
Just as they did in their first round game against Ohio State, which also saw a lengthy lightning delay, the Big Red returned after the stoppage with their foot on the gas and never slowed down. Six consecutive goals, which including three straight from Piatelli, helped Cornell pull away 14-4 late in the frame and essentially put this one in the books.
During that stretch, which spanned nine-plus minutes, Rutgers got off six shots, of which three were stopped by Ierlan. The Big Red also capitalized twice in transition during that frame as ground balls from Bartolotto and Adler were quickly turned into scores on the other end.
Rutgers outscored Cornell 5-3 in the final frame, but no comeback was ever in realm for the Scarlet Knights.
Mitch Bartolo and Brian Cameron each scored two goals while Ross Scott (1G/2A), who was covered by Adler all day, and Ryan Gallagher (1G/2A) each ended with identical stat lines.