The Geneseo men's lacrosse team battled the conditions Wednesday to upset No. 3 Cortland 8-6. That, along with Saturday's 12-5 drubbing of Plattsburgh, upped the Blue Knights' winning streak to seven games since the opening day loss to Nazareth.
The last time the Blue Knights saw Cortland it was in the 2008 SUNYAC Championship, playing for a berth in the NCAA tournament and a trip to Foxboro. The Red Dragons got the upper hand in that one, winning 19-6 on their way to being the national runners-up. This time, however, it was a different story.
"Obviously this is one of our biggest games of the regular season," said senior attackman Mike Cintineo. "We always circle this game at the beginning of the year, and everyone on the team wants this one."
The Blue Knights certainly proved they wanted it more on Wednesday, fighting through difficult field conditions and a stifling Cortland defense - which was only helped by the sloppy field - to control the tempo of the game.
Since the mud made dodging almost impossible and running a set offense tricky, Geneseo turned to the transition game for help, scoring several goals on fast breaks.
One of the most important of these fast breaks came after a long span of offensive pressure by Cortland in the second quarter, a stretch that saw the Red Dragons score their first goal of the game and start to gain some momentum.
Geneseo, however, would have none of that. Thanks to some outstanding defensive play from redshirt freshman Joe McCormack, they emphatically put an end to the Cortland pressure.
With just under five minutes to go in the half, McCormack managed to knock the ball on the ground, sparking a fast break. Two passes later, Cintineo delivered his second goal of the half courtesy of senior Tom Costanza, a strong statement that the Blue Knights were far from crumbling.
Though Cortland managed to score late in the second quarter, Geneseo entered halftime with a 4-2 lead and all the momentum.
"We really gained a lot of confidence from the first half," said Cintineo. "It made it really easy to keep that momentum going in the third quarter."
The Blue Knights managed to use that momentum in a big way at the start of the second half, as they scored four unanswered goals in the first 5:40 of the third to take a commanding 8-2 lead.
After that, Geneseo killed the Red Dragons' attack with clock management, hanging on to the lead as best they could.
"We really tried to slow the pace down," said Costanza of the second half. "They're a very good team in transition and we needed to control that."
After the third quarter ended with Geneseo up 8-4, the Blue Knights' possession game took over, helping turn the clock into a seventh man on defense. It took Cortland 10 minutes to get on the board in the fourth, and by that time it was too late. The Blue Knights' defense held tight down the stretch, with just a last-second goal by Cortland to delay the celebration.
"It was a huge win for us, but we can't get ahead of ourselves," said senior attack Justin Rand, who added two goals against Cortland. "We still need to take each game one at a time, and we can't look past anyone."
The Blue Knights look to stay on track in the coming week as they host Oneonta Saturday at 1 p.m. and Brockport on Wednesday at 4 p.m.