Navy Lacrosse Final Four-Bound

Next up: #6 Princeton, Saturday, 29 May, at 2pm.

ITHACA, N.Y. -- It's been 23 years since Navy appeared in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Semifinals, otherwise known as the Lacrosse Final Four.  Navy (14-2) joined Princeton and top-seeded Johns Hopkins as members of the Final Four when it defeated seventh-seeded Cornell (9-5), 6-5, Sunday in quarterfinal action played at Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y.

"We are honored to win," said Navy head coach Richie Meade.  "Cornell's goalie was outstanding today, but I thought that two of their goals were the result of our inability to get the ball from defense to offense.  That said, Cornell played extremely well today.

"It's a credit to our team to win on their field."

The Midshipmen looked to utilize their full roster on what turned out to be a steamy day on the turf as many witnessed the steam rising from the carpet.  Navy played 28 of its 32 players and seemingly was the difference at the end of the game, running down ground balls with fresher legs.

A sloppily played first quarter by both teams resulted in a scoreless first period.  Navy, though, finally put together a flurry of shots with the last of three-consecutive shots making its way past Cornell keeper Matt McMonagle.  The montage of shots started with senior middie Ben Bailey (Memphis, Tenn.), whose shot was waved by McMonagle, scooped up by Ian Dingman (Deferiet, N.Y.), who subsequently shot and was once again turned back by McMonagle.  The third time was apparently Navy's charm, as junior midfielder Graham Gill (Medford, N.J.) scooped up the loose ball and fired it in for the game's first goal at the 10:13 mark in the second period.

Nearly two minutes to the second later, the Big Red's top goal scorer Sean Greenhalgh curled around the back side of the net and made a diving shot at Navy keeper Matt Russell's (Madison, Conn.) ankles, making its way into the net and knotting the game at one apiece.

Cornell took its only lead of the game with 6:50 to go in the half when former Naval Academy attack Dave Pittard found an open Andrew Collins who threaded in the shot.

The Mids countered 37 seconds later when Dingman took a shot nearly 10 yards out to tie the game at 2-2.

Freshman Billy Looney (Silver Spring, Md.) gave the Mids the lead for good when sophomore attack Jon Birsner (Levittown, N.Y.) threw the ball from behind the cage to Looney who was 15 yards out.

Up 3-2, Looney tried nearly the same shot he had scored upon minutes earlier when he took a cross check to the throat with five seconds remaining in the first half.  That penalty set up an extra-man opportunity for the Mids to open the third quarter.  Navy ran an unusual set knowing Cornell would be prepared for Navy leading goal scorer Joe Bossi (Skaneateles, N.Y.) to set up in the front of the crease on the right-hand side.  Bossi, however, was found five yards out on the left-hand side and the lefty gave Navy a two-goal lead 57 seconds into the second half.

Bossi's goal triggered a second half that saw the two teams trade goals.  Perhaps none was more impressive than Dingman's goal with 9:31 to play in the fourth quarter.  Dingman fought through multiple double teams and muscled his way free to give Navy a 5-3 lead.

Navy owned a 6-4 lead with two minutes to go when Collins produced his second goal of the game at the 1:57 mark to narrow the gap.

Midshipmen rider Trevor Hoselton (Skaneateles, N.Y.) went offsides with 1:28 to play, putting Navy down a man for 30 seconds.  Navy weathered the man-down situation and actually gained advantage.  The Mids went up a man over the final 18 seconds when Cornell defensemen Kyle Georgalas was called for a cross check.

Both goalkeepers had magnificent performances, particularly early in the game.  Cornell's McMonagle produced 12 of his 14 saves in the first half, while Navy's Russell posted six saves in each half of action.

Navy owned Cornell in the face-off circle with junior Chris Pieczonka (Hamburg, N.Y.) winning 12 of the 13 draws. With the 12 wins, he moved up to No. 2 on Navy's career face-offs win list with 191 wins, passing Jay Hull (1995-98) who won 183 during his career.  Pieczonka, who led the Mids with five ground balls, set the school record for single-season grounders with 75. 

Navy's man-down defense was impressive weathering four man-down situations.  Coming into the game, Cornell was ranked fifth in the nation in extra-man opportunities, scoring on 45.8 percent of its chances.  Navy, meanwhile was 2 for 4, scoring one in each half.

The Midshipmen will face Princeton in the NCAA Lacrosse Tournament Semifinals.  Game time is set for 2 p.m. at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore, Md., home of the Baltimore Ravens.  For ticket information, please call (410) 261-7283 or Ticketmaster at (410) 481-SEAT (7328).  All session tickets are available for $40, semifinal tickets are $25 and the national championship ticket is $20.

Navy, who beat Penn 11-5 in the NCAA Tournament opener and now Cornell, has never faced three members of the Ivy League in postseason action and it marks the first time since 1989 in which the Mids have faced three Ivy teams in a single season.

Friday's semifinal game between Navy and Princeton marks the first time the two have played one another in the NCAA Tournament.

Team

1

2

3

4

F

#7 Cornell (9-5)

0

2

1

2

5

#2 Navy (14-2)

0

3

1

2

6


Cornell (G-A-P):  Sean Greenhalgh (2-0-2), Andrew Collins (2-0-2), Kevin Nee 1-0-1), Dave Pittard (0-1-1), Justin Redd (0-1-1).

Navy (G-A-P):  Ian Dingman (2-0-2), Graham Gill (2-0-2), Jon Birsner (0-2-2), Billy Looney (1-0-1), Joe Bossi (1-0-1).

ShotsCornell (28) 7-8-6-7; Navy (35) 5-13-8-9
Ground BallsCornell (24) 5-9-7-3; Navy (31) 3-10-7-11
SavesCornell (14) 3-9-1-1; Navy (12) 4-2-4-2
TurnoversCornell (19) 2-4-8-5; Navy (23) 5-3-8-7
Face-offsCornell 1 for 13; Navy 12 for 13
ClearsCornell 16 for 24; Navy 11 for 15
Extra-ManCornell 0 for 4; Navy 2 for 4


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