Team 21 edges Mermen in OT
VAIL ” Cornell was nearly done in by one its own during Monday’s men’s elite quarterfinals of the Vail Lacrosse Shootout at Ford Park.
Team 21, comprised of current Cornell players and alumni, won a thriller over Maryland-based Mermen, 16-15, on a goal by Casey Lewis with 1:45 left in sudden-death overtime.
“I got stuffed before (by Mermen goalie Brian Phipps),” Lewis said. “I figured I had to do something. I was right on the doorstep there. I just played it left to right and snuck it in there near side.
“We’ve got a lot of guys who played this year and had close games with Albany (N.Y.) and Duke. A lot of us are used to it. Just the mentality, never quit.”
Austin Boykin, who grew up in Maryland, now attends Cornell yet was facing his own mates, scored for Mermen with two seconds left in regulation to tie it at 15.
“Before coming out here, I saw that we were in the same bracket, and if we won our first games, I was going to be able to play these guys,” Boykin said. “I was pretty excited.”
“That’s one guy I’m going to have to ask for next year,” Team 21 coach David Coors joked.
In game with a breakneck pace, Monday’s quarterfinal had eerie parallels to the Duke-Cornell NCAA semifinal in May. Against the Blue Devils, Cornell tied the game at 11 with 18 seconds left, only to see Duke advance when Zach Greer found the back of the net with three ticks left on the clock.
Team 21, with several players on its roster who had played in the Duke game, seemed to ice the game in regulation when Joe Bulukis ripped the twine with 24 seconds left for a 15-14 lead.
Mermen called a timeout to regroup, but it seemingly squandered its last opportunity when a shot went wide of the net. With four seconds to go, Mike Phipps, from behind the net, found Boykin who beat the buzzer.
“I just tried to get free,” Boykin said. “I was trying to get a little separation from my guy. Mike Phipps got a great pass to me and I tried to get a quick stick on it.
“It was just like our Duke game. All the Cornell defenders were saying, ‘Uh-oh.’ Obviously that picked up the momentum for us, and everybody was ready to go. We just fell a little short.”
Having scored the last goal of regulation and possessing younger legs ” its roster is mostly players who have completed their freshmen year at Division I schools ” Mermen seemed to have the advantage going into the extra frame.
Team 21 had experience on its side, though.
“It was a little nerve-wracking, but I knew these guys have a lot of heart and a lot of fight,” Coors said. “It worked out for the best.”
Both teams missed on their first possessions in overtime. Mermen seemed to be setting up for another position when it got whistled for offsides.
“We had the ball and we cleared it and we made a mistake,” said Bob Shriver, one of Mermen’s coaches. “We had two Brians (Farrelli and Currell) on the field, who were both in position. We yelled, “Brian,” and they both went over. It was a coaches’ mistake.”
Lewis ended it on Cornell’s ensuing possession.
Both teams nearly burned out the bulbs on the scoreboard early. It was 8-8 after just 24 minutes. Max Seibald had four goals for the victorious Big Red.
“Not much you can say,” Shriver said. “It was a great game. They’ve got a couple horses. The kid, Seibald, is a phenomenal lacrosse player. He might be the best we’ve seen this year, certainly on the college level. He’s something else.”
Mermen had a horse of its own in Mike Kimmel. The midfielder, who completed his freshmen year with the national champion Johns Hopkins Blue Jays, found the net five times against Team 21.
“He put on a great show,” Shriver said. “I give Michael a lot of credit. He’s worked very hard to get bigger and stronger. He had a great freshman year at (Johns) Hopkins. He’s confident and he’s carried it over.”
Despite a stiffly contested game, hopefully there were no hard feelings afterward.
“Hopefully, those guys will take care of me tonight and we’ll have a good time,” Boykin said. “There’s no hard feelings. I’m sure if we won, they would get a little more bitter toward me.”
Go Fast advances
With friends like these, who needs enemies?
“Their coach is short and fat and ugly,” the Club All Stars’ Devon Farrell joked after his team fell to Go Fast, coached by Jon Barocas, 16-5, in the quarterfinals of the Vail Lacrosse Shootout Monday.
Go Fast’s win over the All Stars was definitely a close-knit affair as both team’s players and coaches have met on the field numerous times in the past.
“You can get in their head pretty easily,” All-Stars coach Mike Johnson said. “It worked to our advantage, for sure. It didn’t really show on the field necessarily. We won the battle off the field.”
“These are guys who’ve played for me, guys I’ve know their whole lives,” said Barocas, who’s not overly-tall, but we’ll hold our thoughts on Ferrell’s other two adjectives. “It was fun. It’s great competition and we all want to win on the field. But off the field, we’re best of friends. That’s the way it should be.
“They won the bar war,” he added with a laugh.
What is not a joking matter is Go Fast’s goal at this year’s Shootout. Having lost the title game the last two years, this crew wants the brass ring in 2007.
“Ask the guys,” Barocas said. “They’re the ones who went home last year and the year before and I can tell you from them that they do not want that to happen again. We’ll see if they can pull it together (today) and play solid.”
“We’re just taking it one game at a time,” Go Fast goalie Doc Schneider said. “Mr. Barocas does a great job out here. We want to win for him.”
Go Fast is halfway home after dumping the Club All Stars. With hat tricks from Jim Connolly and Spencer Cooperman, Go Fast earned a date today with Team 21 in today’s 1 p.m. semifinal at Ford Park.
In other men’s elite action, Lax Grip continued as the surprise entrant of the tournament. Though its talent level belies its No. 11 seed, the mostly-Canadian squad beat No. 3 Merrill Lynch, 11-8.
Lax Grip plays Young Guns, 10-9 winners over Jammin’ Salmon Monday, in today’s first semifinal at 11 a.m., also at Ford Park.
Sports Editor Chris Freud can be reached at 748-2934 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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