March 23, 2013

Pannell Sets Cornell Scoring Record in Win over Penn

by Tom Fleischman | | Live Blog Replay

Senior attackman Rob Pannell surpassed Mike French as Cornell's all-time leading scorer Saturday, as the second-ranked Big Red bounced back from a loss to Bucknell with a 10-5 victory over ninth-ranked Penn. With two goals and an assist, Pannell now has 298 career points.
© Greg Wall

ITHACA, N.Y. -- After Tuesday's tough 9-8 loss at home to Bucknell, Cornell's men's lacrosse seniors got a direct challenge from coach Ben DeLuca.

"I'll say this: Our coaching staff really got after our seniors in a major way," DeLuca said, "because a lot of those guys are the guys we rely on to make plays and to lead us. And they responded in an amazing fashion."

Senior Steve Mock's four-goal performance and a nine-save effort from senior A.J. Fiore sparked the second-ranked Big Red to a 10-5 victory over ninth-ranked Penn at blustery Schoellkopf Field on Saturday.

Matt Donovan added two goals, and Connor Buczek and Max Van Bourgondien scored one apiece for Cornell, which improved to 7-1 overall, 2-0 in the Ivy League.

The Quakers, led by Zack Losco's two goals and Brian Feeney's 11 saves, fell to 5-2 (1-1).

"It was something that we were very disappointed in, dropping a game to a very tough Bucknell team," DeLuca said of his team's first loss of the season to the No. 15 Bison. "But we got back to the drawing board Wednesday morning. I think one of the things we were frustrated with was clearing, just being able to handle the ball in transition from defense to offense, and we'll continue to work on that. But I think in general, our guys came out and established the kind of game we wanted to play."

It was a historic day for fifth-year senior Rob Pannell, who had two goals and an assist on a Mock goal with 14:01 left in the fourth quarter that gave him 297 career points, pushing him past Mike French (1974-76) atop Cornell's all-time scoring list. Pannell now has 124 goals and 174 assists for 298 points.

"This guy sitting next to me is one of the best to ever play the game," DeLuca said of Pannell, who missed most of last season with a broken foot and was granted a fifth year of eligibility back in August by the Ivy League. "You just can't say enough about how thankful we are that he postponed a number of different opportunities he had in life to come back here and be part of this team again. He's a big reason why we're the type of team that we are. To be a part of the game where he ties and then ultimately breaks the record, it's one of those things that's going to take a while to sink in."

Pannell said he knew the record was within reach. In fact, he was reminded of it a few days earlier by the legend he was poised to pass.

"Mike French called me before our last game to wish me luck," Pannell said. "I try not to look at [individual records], because I know that if our team is successful, everything else will follow. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't aware that I was approaching, but I wasn't thinking about it as I was playing the game."

"To be mentioned in the same sentence as Mike French is extremely humbling," he added. "To have him call you on a Tuesday morning is extremely special as well. That says a lot about the Cornell lacrosse family."

Though Pannell got the record, it certainly didn't come easily. Penn senior defender Anthony Santomo did a superb job keeping the dynamic playmaker at bay for most of the game.

"They did a great job today and had me frustrated at points, but I tried to stay calm," Pannell said. "Their No. 38 (Santomo) did a great job on the trail check. I felt I'd beaten him pretty consistently and was getting ready to shoot, but he timed it up pretty well and, to his credit, used his long stick to get the check in."

"I felt it was a pretty good matchup for Anthony," Penn coach Mike Murphy said. "Rob obviously is as good as there is in college lacrosse, but I just felt like if we could manage that one and kind of contain Mock, then we'd be in good shape. We didn't do the latter, obviously."

After a slow start, Cornell finally got on the board with 5:12 left in the first quarter on an unassisted rocket by Pannell, but the Quakers answered just eight seconds later on Matt Machucki's second goal of the year.

Van Bourgondien and Mock put the home team up by two with goals just 17 seconds apart a couple of minutes later, but again, Penn had a quick answer as Losco scored his first just 44 seconds after Mock's goal to make it a one-goal game.

"It was kind of back and forth, and we're looking at the score thinking that it's going to be a 15-14 game," Murphy said. "But mostly credit to cornell, their defense started flying around and making things difficult for us. I thought we had some pretty good looks at the cage in the second quarter but just didn't convert them."

Donovan scored back-back goals bridging the first and second quarters to start a four-goal run for Cornell that resulted in a 7-2 Big Red advantage early in the fourth. Cornell held Penn scoreless for 34 minutes before Losco's second goal made it 7-3 with 10:57 left in the fourth quarter.

The teams evenly split the game's final six goals, but Cornell had built enough of a cushion.

"They made a bunch of plays in terms of middle of the field, ground balls, and they're very good with the lead," Murphy said. "They did everything right and got a big win."

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