The men’s lacrosse team emphatically reversed its recent tendency to fade late in games on Saturday at Reese Stadium, as an 8-0 run in the second half propelled the Bulldogs to a resounding 18-11 victory over Fairfield at home.
Attacker Michael Karwoski ’09 tied a career high with five goals, while attackmen Matt Gibson ’12 and Brendan Gibson ’10 each added three goals.
Johnathan Falcone ’11 had a strong performance in net with 13 saves on the day for the Elis (5-5, 1-3 Ivy). His five saves in the second quarter helped keep his team in the lead, and four stops in the third played a big role in fueling his team’s run.
After jumping out to a 9-6 lead at halftime, the Elis took control of the game by holding the Stags (6-4) scoreless for over 15 minutes of play in the second half. The home team had been leading all game, but their second-half surge turned the contest into a rout.
“We’ve lost two or three close games as a result of letting down late in the game,” captain and defenseman Matt Aronson ’09 said. “So that’s been our focus in practice — just changing that about our play. We finally put it all together and executed and turned it on in the third and fourth.”
He added, “The guys did a great job turning it on and finishing it off.”
Yale came flying out of the gates to amass a 4-0 lead midway through the first period, stunning a team that had been ranked in the top 20 prior to last week’s USILA Coaches Poll.
Brendan Gibson got things started by capitalizing on a turnover by Fairfield freshman goalie Charlie Cipriano less than two minutes into the contest.
Gibson pressured Cipriano in his own net and intercepted his attempted clear before bouncing the ball past the out-of-position goalie.
The Bulldogs kept their momentum going, with goals from middies Matt Fuchs ’10 and Matt Miller ’12 and Matt Gibson over the next six minutes of play.
Fairfield answered back with a three-goal run and ended the first quarter with all the momentum.
Yet it was the Elis who once again opened the scoring in the second period.
After face-off man Kevin Discepolo ’09 won the opening face-off, middie Greg Mahony ’12 scored from a tight angle just 21 seconds into the period to get things going for the home squad.
Middie Nick Tsouris ’10 capitalized on yet another mistake from Cipriano two minutes later to put his team up 6-3. Cipriano carried the ball up past midfield and attempted a pass to one of his teammates, yet the pass was well off target. Tsouris picked up the ball and raced the length of the field to score another goal while Cipriano was out of position.
Fairfield head coach Andrew Copelan pulled Cipriano, who had allowed goals on all six of the shots on target he faced, in favor of sophomore netminder Tommy Kralovenec in the ensuing time-out. This was the first action Kralovenec had seen all season.
The Stags got two of the next three to make it 7-5 midway through the quarter, but a great personal effort from freshman standout Matt Gibson helped re-establish the four-goal lead for the home team.
After brother Brendan Gibson forced a turnover behind the Fairfield net, Matt Gibson picked the ball up out of the air and came around the net to bounce a shot past Kralovenec as he was being fouled.
Karwoski scored on the ensuing man-advantage to put Yale up 9-5.
The Stags got a goal back with six seconds left in the half, but Yale once again came out strong after the break. The Gibson brothers connected again, with Matt Gibson scoring on a quick feed from Brendan Gibson with 12:26 left in the third period.
Fairfield scored two goals to get back within two goals at 10-8 with eight minutes remaining in the quarter, but they did not score again until about that same mark in the fourth quarter.
By that time, the game was well out of reach.
“Our coaches did a good job scouting them,” Aronson said. “We knew for the most part what kind of plays they were going to run and what kind of plays they had. The preparation in practice definitely played into our favor.”
Yale rattled off five straight goals to end the third period with a commanding 15-8 lead.
The last goal was by far the most spectacular, as Matt Gibson acrobatically caught a high pass in front of the goal and in one motion flipped a behind-the-back feed to his brother on the weak side for an easy finish with 17 seconds left in the period.
This was the story on offense for the Bulldogs — good feeds to create high-percentage scoring chances, giving the Fairfield goalies little chance to make saves.
“We played a really good game, a game we needed to play,” Karwoski said. “This is the type of offense we need to continually play.”
Yale scored three more in the fourth before Fairfield’s Brent Adams ended the offensive drought for the Stags with 7:26 left in the game.
The away squad would tack on two more goals before the final buzzer sounded, but too little too late was the understatement of the night.
“We played really hard, we played tough,” head coach Andy Shay said after the game. “They’re a really good team, but we finished our shots. Guys played well all over the field, we played really fast.”
Fairfield remains winless in games where opponent scored double digits.
This is by far the highest goal output for the Bulldogs this season. Their second-highest effort came in a 14-13 overtime win at Penn on March 14.
The Stags had been giving up only eight goals a game on average prior to Saturday.
Yale resumes Ivy League play Wednesday night when the team welcomes Dartmouth to Reese Stadium for a 7 p.m. contest.