After a close but unsuccessful late-game comeback, the Cortland Tigers took a hard 10-8 loss at senior night against the Central Square Hawks, ending their season with a 4-12 overall record and 3-9 conference record.
Cortland started the game off on the wrong foot, with three quick goals from the Hawks sliding right through the Cortland defense, all within the first five minutes of the game.
The Tigers went on to answer back with sophomore Owen Riley scoring Cortland’s first goal of the game off an assist from senior Rory Hines with 5:47 left in the first quarter.
However, Central Square reacted straight away, scoring another three consecutive goals and making it a 6-1 game with two minutes left in the first quarter.
One minute before the end of the first quarter, Cortland junior Nickolas Litzenberger scored off an assist from Riley, trying to give the Tigers a little push coming into the second quarter.
It worked. Senior Brandon Ludwig scored on a shot-fake at the start of the second quarter.
Unfortunately, the Tigers’ momentum went downhill for the rest of the first half. Players lost ground balls, failed to complete passes and allowed the Hawks to settle into their defensive sets. By the end of the half, the Tigers were down by six points, 9-3.
Coming into the second half, the Tigers started being more aggressive and playing with more energy.
The Cortland defense was also on point coming into the second half, with senior Matthew Fernandes and juniors David Benjamin and Landon Rozewski body and stick checking the Hawks offensive players with their long sticks, forcing them to turn the ball over.
“Honestly, there weren't too many adjustments coming into the second half,” said Cortland head coach Sean Mack. “We came our very flat at the start of the game and were lacking some energy. Once some positive things happened we got our motivation up and they started playing a lot harder.”
With the Tigers trying to find their shots in the third quarter, they were finally able to deliver. Ludwig scored to cut the lead to 9-4 with 3:11 left in the third quarter. Hines came in 40 seconds later to cut the lead to 9-5.
With only three seconds left in the third, Ludwig came in clutch after scoring from the left side of the goal off an assist from junior Andrew McCormick, getting the home crowd up on their feet at the chance of a comeback.
With the Tigers cutting the lead down by three by the start of the final quarter of their season, Cortland started playing their hearts out. Litzenberger ripped a long distance shot at the beginning of the quarter to make it 9-7.
Christopher Picciott answered for the Hawks to make it a three-score game with 7:28 remaining.
A few seconds later, Litzenberger answered back, giving the Tigers hope once again. But Central Square started to play possession and keep the ball as far away from Cortland players until the end of the game.
Both Litzenberger and Ludwig led the Tigers with a hat-trick each.
“This was our senior night, so we were trying to finish the season on a high note. Unfortunately that didn't happen,” said Coach Mack. “They fought hard, so we will take that. We are definitely going to miss the seniors. Some of these guys have been playing varsity for a few years and they have done a lot for this program.”