March 8, 2014

Cornell Stifles No. 2 Virginia in 12-9 Win

by Jacob Klinger | | Twitter

ITHACA, N.Y. — James Pannell first visited Schoellkopf Field in 2009.

Then, he watched older brother Rob begin a career that five years later, leaves the Pannell name spoken in hushed voices among Big Red fans. He's returned about 10 times since as a younger brother, fan and recruit.

On Saturday, James debuted as an opponent in Ithaca, starting in attack for No. 2 Virginia.

But No. 15 Cornell (5-0, 0-0 Ivy) made him a spectator once more as the remnants and rebuilding of the team that Rob led to last year's Final Four choked off Pannell and the rest of the Virginia (6-1, 1-0 ACC) attack in a 12-9 Big Red victory in from of 4,093. His mother, father and Tewaaraton Award-winning brother – he thinks – watched from the stands.

Connor Buzek had three goals as Cornell earned a big win over visiting No. 2 Virginia. (Greg Wall)

"I love the stadium, I love the atmosphere. It's a great place to play," Pannell said. "It was fun playing out here. It didn't go the way I wanted but it's always good to be here."

Pannell jumpstarted the UVA offense with the game's first two goals, finishing from five yards out on the left – first with 3:27 into the game and again four minutes later. Matched up with former Smithtown East (N.Y.) teammate Jordan Stevens, Pannell was winning. So were his Cavaliers as Virginia thrived everywhere Cornell struggled in the early going.

Transition, possession and the scoreboard belonged to the visitors. Pannell motored, owning the left wing. His cuts and backpedals unbalanced a CU defense that failed to deal with UVA's more composed set offense.

The Cavaliers silenced a Cornell student section that, apart from a few mistaken roars on near misses that shook Matt Barrett's net, had little to cheer about.

"I thought early on we controlled the play," UVA head coach Dom Starsia said. "... James had a couple but I thought we had a couple more that we didn't capitalize on. But I felt like 'OK, we just got to keep plugging at this and the goals will eventually start dropping."

They didn't.

As confusing as it was for Cornell fans to to watch a beefy attack with "Pannell" on the back of his jersey cut into the CU defense, Virginia's subsequent disappearance on offense proved equally baffling. Those two early goals proved to be Pannell's only points of the day.

When Doug Tesoriero squared up with Mick Parks at the face-off X with 2:36 left in the half, Cornell trailed 5-2. Two Tesoriero faceoff wins, charges at goal and assists later, it was 5-4. Connor Buczek and Matt Donovan added two more in the final minute and Cornell took a 6-5 lead, all the game's momentum and the promise of an upset into the locker room.

In-Game Blog Replay


"The No. 2-ranked team comes in and we have a chip on our shoulder," Tesoriero said. "We get underrated every time and we want to show that we're going to be a team that's a force to be reckoned with. We wanted to prove to everyone that 'This is what we have and here we go.'"

As Cornell took control of the ground ball duels, winning 22 of 34 in the middle two quarters, Pannell became stranded.

"He got two goals on his first two shots I think. I thought he was going to have another seven-goal game," UVA attack Mark Cockerton said. And then they kind of shut him off a little bit."

Most of the Cavaliers were. The Cornell defense Stevens, Tom Freshour and Marshall Peters, backed by goalkeeper Christian Knight, who made his first start frustrated UVA into a series of stunted dodges and dropped and lost balls.

Cornell scored nine goals 12:38 of play that straddled halftime. It left the sophomore who buried seven goals last Saturday against Syracuse, stranded. Whereas Pannell once shuffled around midfield anticipating UVA then-inevitably taking control of the ball and the game, in the second half he could only wait – first to trudge downfield, then for passes that never came.

UVA was finished cycling through its offense with ease. Pannell could no longer exchange high-spirited trash talk with his and his brother's former teammate, Stevens.

While Cornell ran out the clock with 2:00 to play, Pannell's stick stuck in the ground like a can as he continued to helplessly watch. The Big Red fans that he once considered himself apart frenzied into chants of "Over-rated" and a chorus that ends with "Hey, you suck."

The last time he touched the ball, in the game's final minute, Cornell fans sang the Goodbye song.

Said Pannell: "For (Pannell) to get a couple goals, I'm sure that had a little extra kick to it and stuff, but I think the fact that we didn't play well enough overall probably carried the day for him sentiment-wise."

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