By James Boyle
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 5/26/13
Cornell senior attackman Rob Pannell became the all-time NCAA Division I points leader with 354 Saturday in the NCAA men’s Division I semifinals.
The record meant little to Pannell, though, when his team’s comeback failed in a 16-14 loss to Duke in the before 28,444 at Lincoln Financial field.
Despite the loss, the Long Island native spoke emotionally about his incredible career at Cornell – and his amazing bond with his teammates.
“It’s only positive emotions I’m feeling right now with how proud I am of the fifteen other seniors besides myself and the great job they did of leading this team,” said Pannell. “And how we battled back in the fourth quarter, I think you saw what Cornell lacrosse is all about there.
“Playing to the final whistle, never giving up. And I think we did a great job of that from our seniors on down. And the record is what it is. I would give up everything I’ve achieved individually to get a chance to play on Monday.”
The Big Red, who trailed Duke 14-6 with 2:22 left in the third quarter thanks to a 12-1 Duke run, made an improbable run of their own, scoring six unanswered.
Pannell began that run with a goal to end a 15:07 dry spell for Cornell and finished it with two straight goals.
But it was not meant to be for Cornell as Duke held off the Big Red over the final minute of play.
Pannell completed his farewell performance with five goals and two assists, which led his team in both categories. His mark of 354 broke the record held by Duke’s Matt Danowski, son of current Duke coach John Danowski.
“I don’t think I have enough time to explain that. We’ll be here all day,” said Cornell head coach Ben DeLuca when asked to explain the importance of Pannell. “You’re talking about one of the greatest leaders that our program has ever seen. One of the most loyal young men, one of the hardest workers, one of the most complete players in the game. A guy who was never satisfied with where he was, always continued to push himself.
“He raised the bar for not only himself but his teammates and our program. We talk a lot about leaving some place better than you found out and Rob Pannell leaves Cornell Lacrosse better than he found it.”
Pannell’s five goals against Duke gave him 52 on the season. He also upped his season assist tally to 57.
Pannell redshirted after his junior year because of a broken bone in his foot (sustained in the second game of 2012) that required season-ending surgery. But he returned in 2013 for his best and final season.
“It’s been an incredible fifth year, it’s been an incredible five years at Cornell,” said Pannell. “I love Cornell more than anything. I love Cornell lacrosse. It’s the best program in the country.
“I have fifteen new best friends in that senior class, they’ll be my brothers forever. And to come back to play for coach DeLuca one more year. There was no other choice for me.”