Coming off tough losses to then-No. 15 Penn and No. 2 Cornell, the men’s lacrosse team needed a strong win. And they got that last night.
The Bulldogs (3-4, 0-2 Ivy) dominated the Hartford Hawks (2-6), 13-3, at Johnson Field to end their two-game skid. The Bulldogs had an impressive performance in all areas — more shots (45-24) than the Hawks, more ground balls (35-29), and more faceoff wins (17-3).
“We worked on going into the game to control all of the small aspects and playing our game,” defenseman Gray Eklund ’06 said. “We tried to make the other team work as hard as possible. We were trying to execute and play tough lacrosse.”
Attackman Tyler Casertano ’08 had a big night, leading the Elis with three goals and four assists. Casertano assisted on the first two goals of the game to attacker Chris Kempner ’07 and attacker Kyle Washabaugh ’08. He then took two nice feeds from attackman Michael Karwoski ’09 to increase the Bulldogs’ lead to 4-0 at the beginning of the second quarter.
Casertano said the goal of the evening was to execute on offense.
“We knew the game was about us and if we executed that we could win,” Casertano said. “We focused on getting to the rights spots, moving the ball quickly and finishing our shots.”
Kempner also had a successful evening, finishing with three goals and one assist. But despite the 13 goals, the Eli attack had to work to penetrate the Hawks’ defense. The Hawks played zone defense instead of man-to-man, which the Elis had to deal with, midfielder Dan Brillman ’06 said.
“They played zone defense, and we had to adjust to that,” Brillman said. “We didn’t know what to expect.”
Brillman increased his consecutive point scoring streak to 38 games with an assist on the Bulldogs’ sixth score in the third quarter.
Brillman said the contest was a good opportunity for other players to get some game time. Middie Davis Lindsey ’08 scored his first collegiate goal in the second quarter and grabbed his second goal toward the end of the fourth quarter with an assist from Casertano. Karwoski, who has easily made the transition from the ice to the turf, dodged his way to two unassisted goals in the final frame to increase the lead to 11-3. Attacker Colin Ford ’09 hit the net for his first career goal and last goal of the game for the Elis.
The Bulldogs also clicked defensively, which helps them pick up some momentum going into this weekend. Starting goalie George Carafides ’08 made nine saves before being replaced by David Wright ’06, who made two saves, and Joe Costa ’08, who stopped one shot. The Eli defense also allowed their opponents only three tallies, a season low.
While the Bulldogs will take the win versus Hartford, they seem to have their eyes set on this weekend’s matchup with Princeton. Casertano said last night’s game was almost a dress rehearsal for Saturday’s game. He added that they wanted to play a perfect game and not have any mental lapses that will not be acceptable on Saturday.
Unfortunately, the Elis did struggle in the third quarter when they strayed from the game plan. Casertano said Shay was disappointed with the play that period, but that he was pleased with the team’s overall performance.
“Offensively, we didn’t take care of the ball,” Casertano said. “We were impatient and we forced some passes that weren’t there.”
But after three days of intense practices during the rest of the week, the Bulldogs have the time to iron out some of these issues and fully focus on once again upsetting No. 6 Princeton. Focus was the main reason the Elis were able to win last year, 9-8, with Carafides getting two clutch saves in the final minute before the ball was cleared to end the game. Eklund said the coming workouts will determine Saturday’s outcome.
“Whoever works harder will come out on top,” Eklund said. “We want to focus on being tough and working on ground balls. Hopefully things will work out.”