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Cornell men’s lacrosse comeback steals double-OT thriller from Syracuse

35 goals. 61 points. Four quarters. Two overtimes. CJ Kirst calling game after over an hour and seven minutes of game action. They are calling it the game of the year. They might be right.

#12/#13 Cornell set out to make a statement on Tuesday evening when it hosted upstate rival #4/#4 Syracuse at Schoellkopf Field, and managed to do just that. The Big Red weathered two different seven-goal deficits and until 10 seconds remained in the fourth quarter did not own a lead. A response with one second left from Syracuse forced overtime, and when that wasn’t enough to settle things, a second overtime came. With 47 seconds remaining, Spencer Wirtheim found CJ Kirst wide open on the hashes after he drew the double team. No. 15 buried the goal and secured the victory, 18-17.

With the win, Cornell improved to 6-3 (2-1 Ivy), while Syracuse fell to 9-4 (1-1 ACC).

Though stifled for nearly the entire first quarter, Cornell’s offense found its footing, amassing 18 goals and 30 points. Senior attack Michael Longled the way with a career-high nine points on five goals and four assists while also scooping four groundballs. Kirst followed with six points on five goals and an assist, in addition to causing two turnovers. Spencer Wirtheim accounted for two goals and two assists for four points. Freshmen Ryan Goldstein and Willem Firth each tallied three points. Goldstein’s came off two goals and an assist, while Firth dished three apples. Hugh Kelleher rounded out the Big Red multi-point scorers with a goal and an assist. Wyatt Knust earned the win after subbing in at halftime, posting a .750 save percentage, the best of his career. The junior netminder stopped nine of 12 Syracuse shots.

The Orange attack, which started hot, was led by Joey Spallina, who tallied three goals and four assists for seven points. Owen Hiltz, who scored or assisted on four of Syraucse’s first five goals, wrapped up the day with three goals and two assists. Former Princeton players Jake Stevens and Sam English followed on the stat sheet. Stevens served up four assists and vacuumed a game-high nine groundballs while English added a hat trick. Christian Mule tallied two assists and Mason Kohn a goal and an assist. Michael Leo, Finn Thomson, and Luke Rhoa wrapped up the multi-point scorers with two goals apiece. Kohn went 20-for-26 at the faceoff X. Midseason Inside Lacrosse first-team All-American Will Mark made 15 saves.


  • A seven-goal eruption opened the first quarter for the Orange, across the first 10:20 of action.
  • The Big Red was held scoreless until 2:18 remained in the quarter. CJ Kirst turned a solo goal into a spark of offense for Cornell, which Michael Long used to tack on one more goal and cut the deficit to five with 15 seconds left in the first. Then the extracurriculars began
  • Syracuse was assessed two unreleasable penalties against the bench, including an ejection issued to Orange associate head coach, Pat March. Cornell held the ball to close out the quarter and bring the man-advantage into the second.


  • Cornell capitalized just 23 seconds into the second quarter, and again at the 13:02 mark to bring up a three-goal deficit at 7-4. Both goals were scored on the man-up as Cornell took advantage of the three-minute unreleasable.
  • Syracuse had the two-goal response 21 seconds apart at 11:53 and 11:32 to rebuild the lead.
  • A drought for both teams followed for nearly four minutes, and then the offenses exploded.
  • A pole goal from Brendan Staub broke the drought, and Syracuse tacked on a 4-1 run to take a 13-6 lead. Michael Long then took command, scoring or assisting on three of the next four Cornell goals, while freshman goalkeeper Matthew Tully allowed just one Syracuse goal across the same stretch.
  • Cornell entered the locker room trailing by four, 14-10.


  • Syracuse had the spark after the break. Both defenses and goalkeepers had tightened up, but the Orange posted a 2-0 run across the first 8:02 of the second half to pull ahead by six.
  • Long got to work against posting a goal and an assist in the last two minutes of the third to reset the Big Red deficit to four.


  • Saving the best for last, Cornell’s offense took flight, scoring five unanswered goals to take its first lead of the night after a quick 10-second break between goals in the final 20 seconds of action, including the one to take the lead coming from faceoff man Marc Psyllos.
  • Sam English made sure the Orange would not go down without a fight though, scoring with one second remaining in the quarter to force overtime.


  • A scoreless first overtime included two huge saves by Knust to help keep the Big Red in action. The Orange survived a Cornell extra-man opportunity to force the second extra period.
  • Syracuse again won the faceoff to open the second overtime, but after a clean save by Knust, a backed-up wide Cornell shot by Mark, and a second clean save from Knust, Wirtheim and Kirst went to work. No. 31 cam streaking down the right side passed Kirst, drawing the second defender. The midfield took notice and saw his classmate open on the hashes. Kirst took the opportunity and buried the goal, sealing the win for Cornell.


  • The win not only marks the second consecutive win in the series but also the second straight decision outside of regulation. Cornell is 3-1 all-time against the Orange in OT battles.
  • Wyatt Knust’s win is his second against Syracuse. The junior also earned the win in the 2022 matchup in the Dome.
  • This marks the first multi-overtime win for the Big Red since March 21, 2015, when Cornell beat Penn 10-9 at home.
  • Kirst surpassed Rob Pannell ’13 as Cornell’s second all-time leading scorer. The senior has 152 goals to date.


Cornell stays home this weekend when the team hosts Brown for the fourth Ivy battle of the season. Action is set to go down at 12 p.m. on Schoellkopf Field in Ithaca, N.Y. The game will be streamed live on ESPN+.