Bob Rule, Cornell All-American and Hall of Fame Goalie, Dies at 73

Robert ‘Bob’ Rule, the starting goalie on the 1974 U.S. men’s national team and a 1998 inductee into the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, passed away on November 6 at his home on Block Island, R.I. He was 73.

Rule was a first team All-American and first team All-Ivy League goalie at Cornell University who helped the Big Red capture the first NCAA championship in 1971. He won the USILA’s C. Markland Kelly Trophy as the nation’s outstanding goalie that season and also played in the North/South All Star Game.

In a 2021 USA Lacrosse Magazine interview reflecting on the 50th anniversary of the initial NCAA tournament, Rule talked about the uniqueness of that first championship. Cornell defeated Maryland, 12-6, in a game played at Hofstra University.

“Going into it, it was like the great unknown,” Rule said. “I don’t think anybody focused on it until toward the end of the regular season. People started saying, ‘Hey, we’re not stopping at the end of the season. We have playoffs.’ I think guys started to gear up for that toward the end of the season.”

Rule noted that being a part of history created a special bond for that 1971 Cornell team.

“Winning the first one is like winning the first World Series or the first NFL championship. It kind of means something,” Rule said. “It set off a whole new era in a sport, and that’s what I think we did.”

An active post-collegiate player with the Long Island Lacrosse Club after graduating from Cornell, Rule became part of history again in 1974 by earning a spot on the U.S. team that played in the first formal men’s world championship, sanctioned by the newly-formed International Lacrosse Federation.

The U.S. won the four-team event played in Melbourne, Australia, finishing 3-0 in the round-robin against Canada, England, and host Australia.

As an outstanding all-around athlete, Rule began his lacrosse career at Manhasset (N.Y.) High School, where the first lacrosse game he ever played was also the first game he ever saw. He ended his career with an 84-percent save percentage and 2.17 goals allowed per game, earning All-Nassau County honors in 1967 before moving on to Cornell and becoming a three-year starter in goal.

In addition to being named Cornell’s lacrosse team most valuable player in 1971, Rule was also a member of the Big Red’s hockey team in 1969-70 as a backup goaltender, earning the unique distinction of being the first Cornell athlete to play on two national championship teams in different sports.

He returned to Manhasset in 1974 to teach history and help coach boys’ lacrosse at his alma mater. Working first as an assistant under fellow Hall of Famer Alan Lowe, and then with his successor, Bill Cherry, Rule helped Manhasset reached seven state championship games and win four titles, while also racking up several Nassau County and Long Island crowns. Rule retired in 2014 following a 40-year coaching and teaching career.

“I loved what I did, and when you love what you do, it truly doesn’t feel like work,” Rule said at the time of his retirement.

For most of his career, Rule was recognized as the dean of lacrosse goalie coaches on Long Island and offered his expertise to all who requested his tutelage. He authored one of the definitive goalie training books, “Power Goaltending”, and also secured several patents through the years for new goalie stick designs.

“He had such an easy manner as a coach and the kids just loved him,” Cherry said. “He was a fun-loving guy with a great sense of humor who just brightened up everyone’s day. He was a wonderful person.”

In addition to his membership in the National Lacrosse Hall of Fame, Rule was inducted into the Cornell Athletics Hall of Fame in 1986, the Long Island Metro Chapter Hall of Fame in 1988, and the Manhasset Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1991.

Information regarding services has not been announced yet.


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