Following its surprising opening day loss to Holy Cross last weekend, the men’s lacrosse team rebounded by defeating No. 14 UMass at home Sunday, 7-4.
Jonathan Koenig ’08 and Brendan Gibson ’10 led the Elis on offense, with Koenig scoring two goals and Gibson adding one of his own and two assists.
In a game in which they faced a formidable goalie in UMass’ Doc Schneider, the Elis made the quality, not the quantity, of their shots count. Although they only outshot UMass 25-22, they scored seven goals and forced Schneider to make 13 saves.
Heading into the second quarter with the game tied at one, Yale pulled away in the subsequent two periods by outscoring UMass, 5-1.
A surprising boost arrived at halftime in the form of attackman Michael Karwoski ’09, who came to the game straight from hockey practice. Karwoski, a notoriously fast player, energized the offensive with his unexpected arrival at Reese Stadium. After UMass scored early in the fourth quarter, drawing the team within three goals of the Elis, Karwoski scored an unassisted goal less than two minutes later, shifting the momentum back to the home team.
UMass scored another goal in the fourth, but the result had already been fairly certain. The middle two periods gave the Bulldogs more than enough cushion to secure the win.
Yale’s gameplan against UMass may have reflected lessons learned from the loss to Holy Cross. Before the game started, attackman Tyler Casertano ’08 pulled the offensive players aside and gave them advice on how to break down UMass’ defense.
“As attackmen, we had to control the tempo and pace of the game,” Casertano said afterwards. “We had done a bad job of this against Holy Cross, so I told the other players that our main goal shouldn’t be goals and assists but possession and controlling the tempo. We tried to tire them out and wear them down and eventually find high-percentage shots, since the average shot wasn’t going to cut it against UMass’ goalie.”
A crucial part of Yale’s game plan was faceoff specialist Greg Duboff ’08. Duboff won a remarkable 11 of his 14 faceoffs and picked up seven groundballs.
“Greg has been great at faceoffs for us all year,” middie Matt Fuchs ’10 said. “He gives us the ball almost every faceoff. It really helps to keep the ball on the offensive side and enables us to dominate possession. It also takes the wind out of our opponent’s sails when we get the ball right back after goals.”
The disappointing game against Holy Cross last week served as a wake-up call for the highly touted squad — and possibly helped it defeat UMass.
“We never lost our confidence after Holy Cross, but it was definitely a shock,” Brian Douglass ’11 said. “We knew that we had to prepare more and play well every game. UMass is a confidence booster, though — we know that we can beat strong teams like UMass if we play well.”
The Elis’ return to form came at exactly the right time, since they next face another formidable opponent in the University of Maryland, Baltimore County on March 8 in Baltimore. The Retrievers, who reached the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament last year, are looking to bounce back from a disappointing 1-2 start to their season.