For the men’s lacrosse team, their first game of the 2009 season Saturday was a chance at redemption. The Bulldogs soundly defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders, 13-8, after falling to the Crusaders by just one goal, 7-6, last season.
“It was good to get a win,” head coach Andy Shay said. “Those guys beat us last year and we’ve been wanting to get a piece of those guys for a whole year so it was good to get it off our back.”
After losing two key players from last year — attackman Tyler Casertano ’08 and goalie George Carafides ’08 — the Elis came into the game with question marks at some positions. However, the Bulldogs were able to come out hard against the Crusaders. In the first quarter Jerome Arnold ’10 scored the first goal of the game but was answered by Holy Cross’s Colin McGeehin. But that was the only score the Crusaders would get before the Elis began their routing of Holy Cross in the period.
Five consecutive goals by the Bulldogs put the team up 6-1. Six different Elis had goals in the first period.
“We really pushed to avenge that loss,” captain and defenseman Matt Aronson ’09 said. “We were upset about that and wanted to erase it from our memories — it was really important for us to win that game.”
He added, “I thought it was really big for us to come out as the first ones to score.”
In addition to holding Holy Cross to just one goal and four shots in the first period, the Bulldog defense came out strong again in the second period. Despite an illegal equipment penalty on midfielder Matt Fuchs ’10 due to his playing with a stick that was too short, the Elis were able to hold the Crusaders to just one goal during the three-minute power play. And the defense continued their strong performance, holding the Crusaders to just five shots in the quarter and making any chance for a Holy Cross comeback difficult.
Attackman Brendan Gibson ’10 was impressed.
“They could’ve scored as many goals as they could within three minutes and we still would’ve been a man down,” he said. “They scored one goal at the very end of the penalty, so we considered it successful.”
After the halftime break, the Crusaders were first to score again in the third quarter, but two consecutive goals by attackman Michael Karwoski ’09 put the Bulldogs up a comfortable 8-3. However, Holy Cross was able to gain momentum, answering eight seconds later with a goal of their own. With 4:43 left in the period, the Crusaders scored another goal to put the game back within reach, closing the deficit to just three.
Holy Cross was able to hold its momentum going into the fourth quarter. After attackman Brian Douglass put in another goal for the Bulldogs, the Crusaders went on a 3-0 run to cut the game down to just a two point deficit with 4:24 left to play. But that was as close as they would get. Just 23 seconds later, Gibson turned the corner on a Holy Cross player and scored a goal to put the Bulldogs up 11-8.
“That put the nail in the coffin,” Shay said.
Midfielder Colin Still ’12 added a goal with 3:30 to play while Gibson added another in the closing minutes of the game to give the victory to the Bulldogs.
Gibson, who said he felt that last year’s defeat to the Crusaders was a letdown, said Saturday’s victory started the season off on the right foot for Yale.
“We were excited,” he said after the victory. “Our coach made it a point that [last year] was the first time they had beaten an Ivy League team so we were down on ourselves.”
Shay added, “We just wanted to pass the ball as fast as we could and play fast on defense and utilize our faceoff advantage. I think we were able to do that.”
Johnathan Falcone ’11, who is vying for the starting goalie spot left vacant by Carafides, made his first career start, chalking up 16 saves through 24 shots on goal.
“I thought he played well,” Shay said. “He let in a couple he’d like to get back, but I thought he played solid and came up big when we needed him to.”
Andy Brown ’12 was also being considered for the spot, and Shay says that both are still being considered for the goalie position.
“They’re really close,” he said. “It’s a week-to-week thing, but right now John had a good performance. We’re going to evaluate the film and go from there.”
The Elis compete again on Saturday against No. 20 UMass in Amherst, Mass.