Pannell, Mock Connect Early, Often as Cornell Crushes Ohio State
|Rob Pannell carved up Ohio
State's defense with a two-goal, six-assist performance while Steve
Mock scored seven goals, all in the first half to tie Cornell's
all-time single-game postseason record.
© John Strohsacker/LaxPhotos.com
COLLEGE PARK, Md. — Cornell made its first statement of the NCAA tournament last week by blowing out a seasoned playoff team in the University of Maryland. On Saturday, the unseeded Big Red returned to the same field to administer a second knockout blow, and this time the victim was a relative newcomer to the postseason scene.
One week after lighting up Maryland with its dazzling, two-man game, Cornell's remarkable attack duo of Rob Pannell and Steve Mock wasted little time dispatching No. 3 seed Ohio State in the quarterfinal round.
Mock tied former Cornell great Mike French for the program's all-time postseason high with seven goals — all in the first half — while Pannell carved up Ohio State's inadequate defense with a two-goal, six-assist masterpiece, as the Big Red cruised to a 16-6 laugher at Byrd Stadium.
With the victory, Cornell (14-3) stormed back into its 13th final four. The Big Red, in pursuit of the school's fourth NCAA title and first since 1977, will play in the semifinals on Saturday at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia against the winner of Sunday's Duke-Notre Dame quarterfinal.
Cornell was awfully impressive in the way it silenced Ohio State (13-4). The Buckeyes came into the game with a 2-3 record all-time in the NCAA tournament, and were making a bid for the school's first final four after winning their first-ever home playoff game a week ago.
The Big Red would have none of it, as Ohio State absorbed a 16-goal pounding to end a fine season during which the Buckeyes had not allowed more than 11 scores. It was the second straight week Cornell had scored 16 times.
With Mock scoring four of his team's first five goals in a one-sided first quarter, Cornell rolled to a 6-1 lead at quarter's end and was never remotely threatened. The Big Red held a commanding, 11-3 lead at halftime, and stretched it to 16-5 after three quarters.
By that point, Pannell, who operated mainly behind the goal, had solved every defense, every variation of zone and man-to-man, that the Buckeyes had thrown at Cornell. By that point, Mock had zapped Ohio State with his off-ball moves and nasty shot. By that point, Cornell had enjoyed too much possession time and had scored more goals (16) than Ohio State had attempted shots (14).
"We talked all week about being patient and taking quick shots. When we do that, we're a very dangerous offense," said Pannell, who also saluted junior faceoff specialist Doug Tesoriero, who doomed Ohio State by winning 16 of 24 draws. "Doug did an unbelievable job of getting the ball back to our offense. I couldn't be happier going back to championship weekend."
Pannell, the career assists leader at Cornell, moved into second place in Ivy League history and third in NCAA history with 202 assists. His feeding, which included three assists to Mock, was precise, especially when Ohio State curiously hunkered down in a zone and allowed Pannell to roam unchecked behind the net.
"Playing with Rob is just amazing," said Mock, who personally outscored Ohio State and leads the NCAA with 59 goals. "I can't say enough about his game and about how much I've improved since he's been here. Today ranks pretty high up there in games we've played together."
Mock and Pannell were so overwhelming that midfielder Connor Buczek's excellent day (three goals, two assists) fell into their collective shadow.
Ohio State was led by Jesse King (two goals, one assist) and Logan Schuss (one goal, two assists).
"I can't say enough about our four captains," Cornell coach Ben DeLuca said. "It could have been very easy to get distracted [last week] during finals [exams], coming off of a big win over the University of Maryland. But we were tremendous from start to finish. They played with a ton of energy and a ton of heart."
Indeed, the Big Red swarmed in every facet of the game. Cornell outshot Ohio State, 37-20, dominated the ground ball battle, 39-28 and blanked the Buckeyes on four, extra-man chances.
But it was the thunder and lightning combination of Pannell and Mock that ruled the overcast day in College Park.
"That's as explosive an offense as we've seen. They average 15 goals a game for a reason," Ohio State coach Nick Myers said. "At the end of the day, we played too much defense. When you give a team like that a lot of opportunities to get into a rhythm, they can find it."