But at halftime Moran began to worry. He sensed a letdown, a loss of enthusiasm and, yes, overconfidence. Vainly he tried to shake his team's complacency by making them stand and hold hands, normally a pregame ritual. In the other locker room, Hobart Coach Jerry Schmidt offered a simple halftime message: "Anybody who thinks we can't come back shouldn't go out there again." Schmidt had history on his side. In 1972, when Cornell was the defending national champion, it held a 7-4 halftime lead in a game against Hobart. The Statesmen rallied for an 11-10 upset.
A replay of that comeback did not seem possible after Jaeger's second and third goals of the game helped Cornell keep its five-goal margin until late in the third quarter. But as a drizzle turned into a downpour, the Big Red offense suddenly went soggy. Incredibly, for 11� minutes in the third and fourth quarters, Cornell failed to get a shot off. "Our offense is based on six-man patterns, on moving the ball," said Moran, "but suddenly everyone was trying to do it all alone. We played right into the hands of their defense."
During that span, Hobart's scorers were chipping away at the Cornell lead. With 4:15 left in the game, freshman Midfielder Mark Darcangelo danced through the Big Red defense and bounced a shot past Goalie John Griffin to give the Statesmen an 11-10 lead. It was Hobart's sixth consecutive goal.
Surprisingly, Moran did not call a time-out. "My players knew what they needed to do," he said. "Sometimes it takes a traumatic experience to wake them up." Within 42 seconds Cornell had tied the score. First, Marino settled the team by taking the ball behind the cage. That started up the Big Red patterns again. Then, when a Statesman defender dropped off Cornell Midfielder John Sierra to double-team Marino, Marino quickly flipped to Sierra for the tying goal. The winning score came less than two minutes later, when Jaeger, unassisted, fired in his fourth goal.
Hobart had one last chance to tie the score. Darcangelo took the shot, a high, hard liner from about 15 yards out. Griffin netted it easily above his left shoulder. "I tried to put it in the corner, but I just put it right in his stick," said a downcast Darcangelo. "He's a right-handed goalie, so I thought I could stick the ball in the left corner. It sure looked open to me."
Cornell added the final, superfluous goal with four seconds left when Steve Page attempted a shot from 10 yards in front of the cage just as he was hit by two onrushing defensemen and Blick. The ball blooped into the air over the defenders and bounced ever so slowly into the goal as the frustrated Blick threw his stick after it.
Despite the loss, Schmidt was pleased with Hobart's play. "I think the two best teams playing lacrosse were definitely out there today," he said. "I know it's early to say that, but I think the season will prove me right." Schmidt then visited the Cornell locker room to congratulate the Big Red players. "We're rooting for you," he told them. "More than anything else, let's keep the national titles in upstate New York."
Hobart's strong showing against Cornell can only enhance its stature in Division II. Jaeger, for his part, felt that the Big Red gained more than just a win. "That was a good game for us, because it taught us that we have to keep our poise," he said. "We lost it out there. We were running around like chickens with our heads chopped off. That won't happen again."
No doubt the Big Red will now start running around like chickens that have learned the value of staying down on the farm.