Time management is a key component in most sports. Guess it’s not a class requirement at Cornell.
Big Red’s Roy Lang scored with 5:31 left to take a 9-6 lead in the NCAA Men’s Division I lacrosse championship against defending champion Syracuse. As ESPN covered the action, Cornell players appeared to be talking smack as balls were knocked out of play and the clock dwindled until 3:37 remained, when Syracuse’s Steve Keogh sliced the deficit to a deuce. Some 51 seconds later, Cody Jamieson narrowed the margin to a goal.
Still with the Orange pressuring in the final minutes, it appeared as if Cornell, when goalie Jake Myers turned the ‘Cuse away with 27 seconds remaining, was going to win its first title since 1977.
Not sure, if Cornell coach Jeff Tambroni had a time-out left to get everything in order. But Cornell appeared to be safe as the ball was passed cross-field to defender Matt Moyer, who started up the right sideline on Big Red’s side of the field. Instead of continuing that route, or letting the ball go — and the seconds with it — skyward and deep, down the sideline, the senior pivoted inside with about 15 seconds left.
There, Syracuse’s Kenny Nims started whacking his opponent’s stick, eventually dislodging the ball. Moyer recovered, and tried to move away again — instead of just lofting the ball downfield with precious seconds in tow. Teammate Pierce Derkac tried to scoop it up, but Keogh wound up with the ball, before flipping a behind-the-head pass — that could have been Moyer’s maneuver upon retrieval — to Matt Abbott, who lobbed a pass that deflected off retreating midfielder’s Roy Lang’s stick to Nims, who put it past Myers with 4.5 seconds remaining.
Jamieson secured Syracuse’s record 11th championship 80 seconds into OT.
Great comeback by Syracuse? No doubt!
But Cornell was complicit. Moyer should have made like Earvin Johnson in a 1991 playoff win against Portland. With the Lakers nursing a lead with about three ticks remaining, Magic avoided a desperation foul by the Blazers — and a chance to get the ball back after the free throws — by merely tossing the ball the length of the floor as his well-laid pass to nowhere made time disappear.
Granted, there was a little bit more time left in the lacrosse game on Memorial Day. But unlike NBA hoops, there’s no timeout rule in lacrosse that would have given Syracuse the ball at midfield. Worse-case scenario for Big Red: the Orange would have had to traverse the length of the field in the final 10-11 seconds. Instead, Cornell mismanaged the clock and lost the ball in its half, which was just about the only way it could have surrendered the tying goal in the waning moments.
Check it out for the first time, or relive the ecstasy, agony and the failed clock management again tonight at 7 p.m. on ESPN Classic.