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No. 3 seed Ohio State vs. Cornell, Saturday, 12:30 p.m.
The Big Red (13-3) is three one-goal losses from being undefeated and is unseeded in a year defined by parity. Cornell dominated Maryland at Byrd Stadium in College Park on Sunday and returns to the scene of the crime.
An efficient offense highlighted by the nation's most dominant player, a good faceoff unit spearheaded by Doug Tesoriero, a tenacious ride and a roster that plays with uncommon energy and emotion have fans in Ithaca, N.Y., thinking NCAA title.
Rob Pannell (40 goals, 47 assists, pictured) drives the bus. He's third all-time in NCAA history for points, 14 away from tying Matt Danowski (Duke 2004-08). He makes his linemates dangerous with an ability to break his man down, handle double teams and distribute. Cornell shot 16-for-31 against the Terps, cashing in on layups earned by Pannell's footwork and vision.
If Pannell is Batman, then Steve Mock is Robin.
"Rob and I have been on the same page since Day One," said Mock, who's scored 24 times this year off assists from Pannell. Mock, a senior captain, has a career shooting percentage above 40 percent and will try to sit down in the soft spots of the Buckeyes' zone defense. Mock (52 goals) wrapped up his academic responsibilities Wednesday when he turned in a paper on "green marketing."
Midfielders Connor Buczek and Max Van Bourgondien are accurate midrange shooters when they set their feet and get clean looks. Connor English and Matt Donovan complete the top six threats. Cornell lacks depth and will benefit from the cooler weather in the forecast.
Cornell's starting defense of Jason Noble, Thomas Keith and Tom Freshour fly around, creating turnovers. The trio knocks down passes, runs out shots and trail-checks. Opponents often experience empty possessions.
Cornell is 26-6 for DeLuca when it wins the ground-ball war. "We're not going to put the brakes on," DeLuca said.
May 12, 2013