The last time Cornell and Rutgers faced off in men’s lacrosse, Jimmy Carter was the U.S. president and a gallon of gas cost around $1.25. Legendary head coach Richie Moran was in the 12th of his 29 seasons at the helm of the Big Red.
Cornell won the late-season clash of ranked teams, 13-10, in Piscataway, New Jersey, the fourth in a six-game win streak that would propel the Red into the 1980 national tournament.
Forty-two years later, the Big Red and Scarlet Knights finally meet again – but the stakes are quite a bit higher this time.
Seventh-seeded Cornell (13-4) will meet sixth-seed Rutgers (15-3) on May 28 in the NCAA Division I national semifinals. Gametime is noon at Rentschler Field, East Hartford, Connecticut. The Big Red is making its 14th appearance in the Final Four; the Scarlet Knights are making their first.
The winner will advance to the national championship game, at 1 p.m. May 30 in East Hartford, to take on either top-seeded Maryland (16-0) or fifth-seeded Princeton (11-4), who meet in the other semifinal.
Under Connor Buczek ’15, MBA ’17, the Richard Moran Head Coach of Lacrosse, Cornell advanced to the national semis by defeating 13th-ranked Ohio State, 15-8, on May 15 at Schoellkopf Field, and the University of Delaware, 10-8, a week later in Columbus, Ohio. Cornell is seeking its first championship-game appearance since 2009, when it fell to Syracuse, 10-9 in overtime.
Buczek, a three-time All-American and Ivy League Player of the Year in 2014, is in his first season coaching at his alma mater. He was hired following the COVID-shortened 2020 season; the 2021 season was canceled due to the pandemic.
The Big Red is led by attack John Piatelli ’22, who has a team-high 60 goals and 75 total points, and leads the nation at 3.53 goals per game. Attack C.J. Kirst ’24 is second in scoring with 50 goals and 22 assists for 72 points. Goalie Chayse Ierlan ’22 has allowed 11.13 goals per game and made a combined 28 saves in the two NCAA tournament victories.
Cornell won national titles in 1971, ’76 and ’77 and was runner-up in ’78, ’87, ’88 and 2009.
Rutgers, runner-up to Maryland in the Big Ten Conference, knocked off Ivy League foes Harvard and Pennsylvania en route to its first trip to the national semis. The Scarlet Knights’ three losses all came to national semifinalists (Maryland twice, Princeton).
Both semifinal games will air on ESPN2; the final will be shown on ESPN. Cornell’s games can also be heard on WHCU (870 AM), with Barry Leonard and Howie Borkan ’81 on the call.