The men’s lacrosse team got its season underway this past weekend with a 14–7 win against non-conference opponent Holy Cross at Reese Stadium.
After finishing the first quarter down 3–2, the Elis (1-0, 0-0 Ivy) found the back of the net five times in the second quarter to take control heading into halftime. And once the Bulldogs grabbed that momentum, they never let it up.
“I think we played pretty well,” midfielder Matt Miller ’12 said. “It feels pretty good to get that first win to start the season off.”
Even though Yale had doubled its opponent’s score by the end of the game, the Crusaders (0–2, 0–0 Patriot League) struck first Saturday when middie Kenny Minor scored an unassisted, man-up goal at 2:52 into the first quarter.
Yale attacker Brian Douglass ’11 responded quickly, sending the ball past goalie Connor Sweeney and into the right corner of the net one minute later. Douglass added to the tally again in the 10th minute after receiving a feed from defender Peter Johnson ’13 to score from nearly the same spot.
Holy Cross overtook the Elis before the quarter expired, notching a pair of even-strength goals within the final five minutes to take a 3–2 lead.
But that advantage did not last long.
Four different Yale players combined for five goals in the second quarter, while the Crusaders capitalized only once.
Attacker and team captain Brendan Gibson ’10 recorded two of the Bulldogs’ goals, and his brother, attacker Matt Gibson ’12, was good for a goal and two assists that quarter.
Brendan Gibson started the scoring slew less than one minute into play on even strength. Yale got its sole man-up goal of the game about two minutes later from attacker Kirby Zdrill ’13. It was Zdrill’s first career goal.
The Elis kept possession of the ball almost until halftime, but Holy Cross managed to score an unassisted goal with 44 seconds left on the clock.
Yale finished the first half leading 7–4 and with slim statistical advantages in most categories. The Bulldogs just outshot the Crusaders, 20–19, won seven of the 13 faceoffs and got 15 ground balls to Holy Cross’s 12.
And those statistical advantages widened in the second half. Yale racked up another seven goals over the next 30 minutes, with Matt Gibson scoring a hat-trick in that half alone.
Penalties proved problematic for the Elis in the second half. Yale was called on six fouls, and the Crusaders made the best of those chances — earning two of their remaining three goals with a man advantage.
“If we didn’t foul, I would have liked to see what would have happened,” head coach Andy Shay said. “I think the game got a little out of controll and a little chippy.”
Still, Holy Cross just could not catch Yale for the rest of the game.
Miller got the first goal of the second half at 1:12 into the third quarter, scoring off a feed from midfielder Matt Fuchs ’10. Holy Cross countered five minutes later with an unassisted, wrap-around goal — the visiting team’s only one of the quarter.
Then Yale had a burst of offensive momentum with three minutes left in the third to add another three goals. Brendan Gibson started the scoring spurt when he snagged a ground ball and put the rebound away after having his first shot blocked. Eli attacker Douglass also scored off his own rebound two minutes later, and Matt Gibson added the final goal of the quarter with nine seconds on the clock to put the Elis up 11–5.
The Crusaders chipped at Yale’s lead in the beginning of the fourth quarter with a pair of extra-man goals in the first six minutes. But after seeing their lead cut by two points, the Elis rebounded to record three more goals before the game ended.
Holy Cross threatened Yale’s net in the last final minutes of play, but goalie Johnathan Falcone ’11 withstood the onslaught of shots, making seven saves as the last 60 seconds counted down.
“The end of the game is when the other team is going all-out,” Brendan Gibson said. “For [Falcone] to come up with those saves was huge, and the last one ended up with a clear for us.”
Matt Gibson sealed the 14–7 score one second before time expired, notching his fourth goal of the day. Yale outshot Holy Cross 40–32 and won 35 ground balls to the Crusaders’ 25. Midfielder Max Rodman ’10 also won 16 of 24 faceoffs in his first game playing as Yale’s starting faceoff man.
Miller said both Falcone’s and Rodman’s efforts were crucial to the Eli victory.
“The two keys to having a good team are having a good goalie and a good faceoff guy,” Miller said. “We had both [on Saturday].”
Yale returns to Reese Stadium Friday for a 7 p.m. contest against UMass.