April 24, 2012

Lang Sparks Cornell to Win over Binghamton

from press release

ITHACA, N.Y. – Kelly Lang came off the bench to score a career-high three goals in the first half, added a fourth in the second half, and the No. 13 Cornell women's lacrosse team rolled to a 17-8 win at Binghamton in the teams' first ever meeting Tuesday afternoon.

The Big Red controlled the first half, outshooting the home team 19-9 and picking up 10 ground balls to the Bearcats' two. Binghamton also turned the ball over 11 times in the first 30 minutes, and those advantages combined to give Cornell a 10-4 lead at the half.

The second half was much of the same, and when the final whistle blew, Lang led Cornell with four goals. Caroline Salisbury had three goals and an assist, and Jessi Steinberg,Katie Kirk and Lindsay Toppe had two goals and an assist.

"If you put your first shot in the back of the net, it is a confidence booster," said Lang, who had never scored more than one goal in a game in her Cornell career. "It's just like a goalie. If she stops the first shot, then she gets hot. When the goalie's getting hot, it's hard to score goals. It's the same thing for attack. You get your confidence up, and you keep shooting."

Though Courtney Gallagher got her third career start in goal, freshman Carly Gniewek played the majority of the contest and earned her first career victory. She made three saves, all in the second half, in her 45 minutes of playing time.

Cornell (10-4) is now 1-0 lifetime against the Bearcats (3-12) and earned 10 wins in a season for the first time since 2008. Out of conference, the Big Red's improved to 6-2 and remains perfect at 6-0 in true road games.

"Some people stepped up," coach Jenny Graap said. "Notably, Kelly Lang had a great game. She looked really strong. I'm really happy that Lindsay Toppe got in there for a couple nice goals. A lot of people were represented in the offense."

Cornell got on the board just 1:21 into the game. After feeling out the Bearcats defense with multiple passes and feints, Steinberg got the ball behind the net and found an openSarah Hefner in front for an easy goal. Just 50 seconds later, though, Binghamton got the game tied on a shot by Emma Hayes-Hurley.

Cacki Helmer got ground balls on both of Binghamton's next two possessions, but it was Beth Halayko's ground ball that gave the Big Red its next goal. Picking up a bad Binghamton pass, Halayko launched the ball to a wide open Salisbury, who had nothing but grass in front of her and beat Binghamton goalkeeper Kara Pafumi low and right. Halayko's ground ball was one of her four in the first half. Helmer led the team with five ground balls and five caused turnovers.

"Cacki Helmer continues to shine," Graap said. "She handles a tough markup, and she's getting ground balls and caused turnovers. She was absolutely a standout for us in the backfield."

The Big Red took a 3-1 lead a minute later when Steinberg, behind the net, received a pass from Shannon McHugh. Steinberg wrapped around the net and got a shot past Pafumi high and short side. Lang got her day started and made it 4-1 just 31 seconds later, and the rout was on. McHugh got a goal of her own immediately off the next draw control, and the Big Red's advantage was quickly stretched to 5-1.

A Bearcats free position shot cut the lead to three, but Cornell got it back up to four after Gallagher made her first save of the afternoon. A speedy clear by Ali O'Neil gave Cornell possession in the offensive end, and Salisbury eventually found Amanda D'Amico in front of the net from the right side for the goal.

Cornell went on a slight scoring drought after that, but seven minutes after the D'Amico goal it was Lang getting her second. Katie Kirk took the ball into the fan on the right side, and Lang cut to the front of the net for an open shot and a 7-4 Cornell lead.

"Coming off the last game against Yale, I just tried to focus on my shot selection a lot more," said Lang, whose four goals came on four shots.

Three minutes after that, Lang got her hat trick goal on a free position shot. Though during the run of play she passed to a wide open Hefner on the left side of the net, Lang got fouled during the pass and was awarded a free position attempt. She converted, and the Big Red had an 8-4 edge.

Steinberg got her second goal of the afternoon just 2:26 before halftime. Similar to her first, Steinberg got the ball behind the net and wrapped around to the right side, but this time she faked an initial shot from the side of the net and scored from closer to the center of the fan. Less than a minute later, Kirk scored her first of the game and it was 10-4 Big Red at halftime.

After a fast scoring past in the first half, it took the Big Red nearly eight minutes to get on the board in the second. But Salisbury's second goal on a free position shot was followed by her hat trick goal – also on a free position attempt – a minute later.

Kirk earned her the next Big Red score and her second of the game by streaking into the fan from the left side and beating Pafumi low and right.

With time winding down and up a player after Binghamton took a yellow card, a bad Bearcats turnover sparked a Big Red three-on-one. Olivia Knotts and Lindsay Toppe passed it back and forth, and Knotts wound up scoring from the left to put Cornell ahead 14-6.

Lang scored her fourth and final goal a short while later, getting the ball in the middle of the fan and whipping a shot by Pafumi. Toppe got a goal to go along with her assist with less than five minutes remaining. The goal was her eighth of the season, and it was followed almost immediately by her ninth. Toppe got a free position attempt, and she bounced a shot off the turf and into the net for her third point of the contest.

Cornell's regular season comes to a close on Saturday at noon when the team travels to Brown. With a 4-2 record in the Ivy League, a win would secure a berth in next weekend's Ivy League Tournament.

Cornell would also clinch a tournament berth with either a Penn victory against Princeton on Wednesday or a Dartmouth victory against Harvard on Friday. Should Harvard, Princeton and Cornell all win this week, Cornell could claim the Ivy League Tournament's top seed.

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