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NCAA Women's Lacrosse: Cornell 15, Canisius 11

ITHACA – Canisius College ran into a bigger, more experienced opponent Friday night and lost to Cornell University, 15-11, in the first round of the NCAA Division I women’s lacrosse tournament.

Cornell, ranked 13th in the nation, broke away from a 6-6 halftime tie to outscore the Griffs, 9-5, over the final 30 minutes in the game at Schoellkopf Field.

It was the Golden Griffins’ fifth trip to the NCAA Tournament in the last six years, and they have lost in the first round in each of their NCAA trips.

Canisius’ season ended at 13-7. Cornell improved to 14-4 and advanced to a round-of-16 game against Massachusetts Sunday.

The Big Red started 10 juniors or seniors. Canisius started just three juniors or seniors.

Canisius got four goals from Tessa Chad, a freshman from Ontario, N.Y. Griffs star sophomore Erica Evans, the No. 2 scorer in the nation, had three goals and two assists.

Cornell used its size to pack in its defense. The Big Red ranked 12th in the nation in scoring defense, allowing only 7.12 goals a game.

Even half: The two teams played to a 6-6 tie over the first 30 minutes.

Canisius started strong, taking a 2-0 lead over the first eight minutes on goals by Evans and Jourdan Roemer. But Cornell answered with three goals in a span of 1:11 to take a 3-2 lead 12:06 into the game. The lead was never more than one goal the rest of the half.

After Cornell took a 6-5 lead with 2:43 left, Canisius opted to hold the ball for the last 2 minutes, and the strategy worked. Chad drew a foul in the 8-meter fan with 4.5 seconds to go to get a free-position shot. She beat goalie Renee Poullett with 2.7 seconds left to tie it.

Griffs loaded: Canisius will be the favorite to get back to the NCAAs again next season . . . and maybe the year after that, too. Nine of Canisius’ 12 starters are freshmen or sophomores. Canisius has won 14 straight regular-season games in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference. The Griffs won the MAAC title game by the largest margin ever, 17-5, over Monmouth.

Senior coming back: Besides all of the young starters back, the Griffs will return one of their senior leaders, Ashley Bull. She was lost for the season to injury two minutes into the first game and will get her year of eligibility back.

Top WNYer: Canisius’ top Buffalo-area player is sophomore Allie Stewart of Lancaster. She did not start this season but played a ton and ranked sixth on the team in scoring with 25 goals, four assists and 29 points. Stewart also had the best shot percentage on the team (.556).

Past NCAAs: Canisius’ previous losses in the NCAA Tournament were to UMass in 2011 and 2012, Penn State in 2013 and Penn in 2014. The 2012 and 2013 defeats were by just one goal.

Tough Ivy: Cornell played eight games against ranked teams this season, while Canisius played two. Three Ivy League teams ended the regular season in the top 20 in the coaches’ poll. Besides the No. 13 Big Red, Penn was 14th and Princeton 16th.

Top seeds: The top four seeds in the 26-team tournament are No. 1 Maryland (19-0), No. 2 Florida (18-1), No. 3 North Carolina (16-2) and No. 4 Syracuse (17-5).

Opening game: Massachusetts defeated 16th-ranked Princeton, 13-12, in double overtime in the first game at Cornell Friday. It was a mild upset. UMass (19-1) scored on a goal by Eileen McDonald 37 seconds into the second overtime. The final minute of regulation was frantic. UMass took a 12-11 lead on a goal with 14.6 seconds left. But Princeton raced downfield and scored with 0.8 seconds left to force overtime.

Next week: The winner of Sunday’s game advances to the quarterfinals May 21 or 22.

Email: mgaughan@buffnews.com

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